BOC discusses Snr. Services change

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

Commissioners discussed once again making Newton County Senior Services a county department in order to save money. The discussion came at the strategic planning work session held at Burge Plantation Saturday.

Accountant Wayne Tamplin of Treadwell, Tamplin and Co. told commissioners that the non-profit status of Senior Services is costing the county thousands of additional dollars each year. Tamplin said the non-profit must have a separate audit at a cost of between $13,000 and $15,000 per year; legal fees total about $21,000 per year; and a separate tax return must be filed at a cost of about $1,000.

"What little money they've raised is a pittance compared to what it costs to run that thing," he said, adding that non-profit status could still be maintained for fund-raising purposes. The county by definition is a non-profit but corporations often want to see 501(c)3 status before they will donate to an organization, said an associate of Tamplin's.

The Senior Services board of directors hasn't met in a year due to ongoing issues regarding its role. Chairman Kathy Morgan said she's having a difficult time finding someone to serve as chair of the board.

"If we're directing operations and they just raise the funds they don't want it," she said.

Last summer, county commissioners approved an agreement between the county and Senior Services holding Senior Service employees accountable to the chairman's office.

The agreement required the director and Senior Services board to develop a program of work for each fiscal year, with details including a description of all programs, services and activities provided during the year. The program of work will be provided to the BOC each year during the budget process in order for Senior Services to be eligible for county funding. The board will decide each year whether to appropriate funding and how much to appropriate, Morgan said.

Senior Services Director Josephine Brown told the board at that time she needs a board of directors in place. Problems with the Senior Services board have been an ongoing topic of discussion for the past two years. Several board members resigned and others have refused to attend meetings. Other members said there were personality conflicts among board members and some were attempting to micro-manage operations of the Senior Center.

County Attorney Tommy Craig said commissioners could pass a resolution to bring Senior Services back under the umbrella of the county. If that happens, it won't be before the end of this fiscal year in June, due to obligations to grant providers who committed funds based on the current status as an independent 501(c)3, Morgan said.

At Tuesday's Board of Commissioners meeting, commissioners agreed to hold a work session to discuss the future of Senior Services.