Supes debate Senior services; receive County Water Director updates on status of Tecopa water project.
At Tuesday’s Inyo Board of Supervisors’ meeting in Independence, the Board took on a range of subjects, from efforts to reduce the costs of the Senior Lunch Program, to a new water system for Tecopa.
Jean Turner with the Health and Human Services Department presented the second Board workshop on options for service delivery of the Inyo County-Growing Older Living with Dignity (GOLD) program. The County is seeking to lessen the impact on the General Fund, currently at $659,000, representing a 51 percent match to State and Federal funds.
Turner provided Supervisors with a wide range of options. The breakdown of services currently funded by IC-GOLD from the Inyo County General Fund include $108,140 for the in-home personal care and/or homemaker service, $7,000 for Lifeline services, and $330,000 for congregate and home-delivered meals.
The only criteria for eligibility to receive Congregate Meals is its 60+ age requirement. The level of participation by all eligible seniors in the County varies greatly by community, from a low of 17 (3.5 percent) in Big Pine, to 53 (77.9) percent in Tecopa.
Turner offered eight scenarios for In-Home Services to the Supervisors.
Suggestions included savings of $7,000 with the elimination of Lifeline, to be funded by community sponsorship; $115,140 savings with the elimination of all in-home services, or refusing to accept new clients, resulting in the same savings through attrition, eventually eliminating service.
One scenario with a great deal of support was to reduce meals for those receiving seven meals a week to five meals a week, with the resulting savings of $30,400, to reducing the number of hot meals, replacing them with frozen meals such as done in Tecopa.
To the HHS Department’s credit, the staff has worked hard to come up with scenarios that continue to provide a strong commitment to seniors, a key goal that all the County Supervisors have set. The level of detail and attention by the HHS staff is commendable.
The idea of partnering with the City of Bishop on increasing the Transactional Use Tax (TUT) from its current .5 percent, which is added to the state sales tax currently at 8 percent in Inyo County, was discussed by the CAO and Board.
Currently 70 percent of the TUT (FY 2012-2013: $12 million) goes to the County and is budgeted towards the Solid Waste Program. The City of Bishop receives 30 percent of the TUT (2012-2013: $554,000) and is budgeted to Bishop Park. A .25 percent increase would have brought in.
In an interesting side-bar to the BOS meeting, a Bishop councilperson said that it was the County who approached the City of Bishop and not how it seemed to appear during the Board meeting that it was the other way around. It was confirmed that the County CAO and a Supervisor approached the City of Bishop asking them to “hold off” on increasing the TUT four months ago so the idea of partnering with them could be looked by the county. Regardless of whose idea it was, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted against the idea, saying essentially that they felt the voters and their constituents wanted them to work within the existing budget before asking to increase the TUT. That opportunity will not occur until the General Election in November 2016.
The Board heard from Dr. Bob Harrington, Water Department Director, and approved providing $40,000 for emergency bottled water from July 1 through October 31, 2014, for the community of Tecopa as Phase 1 in providing a fast-moving grant opportunity for a new water system (see Vane’s story on connecting rural water systems).
The new water system for Tecopa under a grant from the state Water Resources Control Board is the result of the combined efforts of the Inyo-Mono Integrated Water Management Group, the CAO, the County Health Department, and County Water Department. According to Harrington, the State Water Resources Control Board was very interested in funding the project and almost everything was already in place to move it forward quickly.
Harrington went on to say that the construction and details are being worked out with the WRCB staff.
Actual project oversight will be provided by Marvin Moskowitz, the Director of the County’s Public Health Department. The new water system will not add to the current deficit, as its costs are covered under the grant.
“I really appreciate the efforts on behalf of the people in Tecopa,” said Fifth District Supervisor Matt Kingsley.