IMAAA expiration date leaves Mono County spinning
“This is all happening fast and furiously,” said Mono County Director of Social Services Julie Tiede at Tuesday’s regular Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting. “I’m finding it difficult to find time to be thoughtful.”
Tiede was referring to the context surrounding a proposed contract before the Board with Inyo County for senior services.
According to the staff report, in the past Mono County negotiated with the Inyo Mono Area Agency on Aging (IMAAA) to have the Mono County Department of Social Services, as a contractor, directly provide senior services to Mono County.
The Inyo Mono Area Agency on Aging (IMAAA) Governing Board voted unanimously on Dec. 19, 2011 to allow its contract with the California Department of Aging to expire, effective June 30, 2012, a casualty of what it labeled “state underfunding.”
With the expiration date looming, the state department designated the Inyo County Board of Supervisors as the governing board of what will now be called ESAAA, or the Eastern Sierra Area Agency on Aging. Inyo County will therefore have control of any state funding that comes in to support these services and will dole it out as it sees fit.
The proposed contract on the table on Tuesday would run from July 1-Sept. 30, and would have Mono County still provide services to its area seniors during this transition period. The contract would provide $41,660, a normal quarterly amount, to aid Mono County in continuing to provide these services during the three-month period. In other words, the proposed contract would keep things status quo for another three months.
Supervisor Hap Hazard, a governing board member of the former IMAAA, was displeased by the proposed contract.
“I thought we were getting out of the IMAAA relationship,” Hazard asked rhetorically. “This contract puts us back in the system we just fought so hard to get out of.”
Hazard felt that the program now belonged to Inyo County and Mono should stay out of the way. “It’s their money, their responsibility,” he said.
Tiede, however, pointed out that without the additional handout from the pot of state money that Inyo now presides over, Mono County would not be able to sustain the level of service to which its seniors have become accustomed.
Mono County sets aside $159,000 from its own budget every year to support these services. The money from the state is additional.
“Anything short of accepting the contract is a fire sale and you would be blowing the bridge out from under you,” Tiede said. “We don’t want to hurt our seniors or our dedicated staff.”
Tiede added that the state funding was dwindling resource. She didn’t believe there would be another extension after the one in the contract.
“They’re [Inyo] losing money,” she said. “It’s not a good deal for them.”
“We are back in the same boat,” Supervisor Tim Hansen said in agreement with Hazard, “but what are our choices? We need to have something to tell people. It’s hard to explain this to someone.”
“We need to make sure the message to our seniors is controlled,” Tiede continued. “Ninety days will buy us time to do that.”
Supervisor Byng Hunt said the Board should approve the contract but receive frequent updates in the next 90 days to keep it apprised of how the situation progresses.
The vote was 4-1 to with Hazard dissenting.