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Posted January 24, 2012 | comments 9 Comments

Area Agency on Aging to ask for additional funds

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Most outside agencies seeking funds from Warren County in the fiscal 2013 budget haven't changed their requests from last year, but three are looking for a significant increase.

The budget requests from the 28 outside agencies will be discussed tonight at 7 p.m. at a Board of Supervisors work session in the County Government Center caucus room.

The Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging hopes to increase its funds from the county by 75 percent, from $40,000 to $70,000. In it's budget submission form, the agency cited several reasons for the request, mainly to "manage the financial recovery of SAAA with the goal of paying all past debt by September 2013."

SAAA has been rocked by disclosures of financial irregularities that led to the dismissal of three top officials as well as civil suits and a state police investigation.

Agency officials also said that the increased funding would help reduce the number of residents on waiting lists for "crucial in-home support services," which include the Meals on Wheels service, personal care and housekeeping assistance.

House of Hope, an agency that provides services to address the causes of homelessness, is requesting $10,000, a 100 percent increase from the current budget allocation of $5,000. The agency provides shelter, case managers and life skills workshops to qualifying individuals. Residents must be drug- and alcohol- free, and sex offenders are not accepted.

In 2010, House of Hope had to downsize, and lost eight beds due to budget limitations. According to its budget submission, the agency requested additional funds for the upcoming fiscal year because of returning veterans. "The need for House of Hope services is urgent and undeniable," it states.

The president of the House of Hope's board, Sigrid Hepp-Dax, also wrote to county officials addressing the request.

"We have no paid staff. We are primarily a working board with a few volunteers," he said. According to the submission, a "more professional staff" is needed to meet the agency's upcoming goals and objectives.

Also, the Browntown Community Center is requesting $5,000, a 150 percent increase from last year's budget of $2,000. The center serves as a meeting place, playground for children and polling place for voters. It also houses a small museum and hosts events throughout the year.

The center cites costs associated with repairs as a major reason for the higher budget request.

"The center itself is an historic building with a unique set of maintenance and repair requirements," says the department description of the budget submission.

According to the justification for the increase, the agency does have income that covers heating, insurance and routine maintenance expenses. However, "additional funds from the county will allow us to keep the center on a sound financial basis."

9 Comments | Leave a comment

    Regarding the request to increase the funding for SAAA, can Warren County earmark the additional funds for specific projects, such as reducing the waiting lists for home delivered meals, personal care services and houeskeeping assistance?

    The SAAA has gotten itself in a position where responsible money management is absolutely essential. I totally understand if the County Supervisors want some reassurance that any additional allocated funds will actually be used to provide County senior citizens with the "crucial in-home support services".

    I have a little advice for SAAA's Board of Directors and the agency's interim management team: TRANSPARENCY IS YOUR FRIEND. To regain the public trust, people want to be assured their money is going to provide services to local senior citizens. On the SAAA website, there are statistics from FY 2008 ( which is a little outdated, by the way) that indicate how many of each crucial core services were provided by the SAAA. This is the kind of information the public wants , but it is not enough.

    I challenge the agency to go a step further and provide figures on what percentage of all funding actually goes directly to providing services. Other charitable organizations are able to determine and publish data that indicates the percentage of total funds collected that go toward direct client services.

    SAAA is going to have to become an "Open Book" to the public, it's clients, and yes, even to the agency's rank and file employees if it is to weather this latest crisis.

    If their request is given by the board i hope they dont hire a person making $100,000.00 and drive a $50.000.00 car and health insurance that is paid100% from the agency funds.It's their job to take care of our needy seniors with those goverment funds and not to make their life an easy street.

      I hope before any additional funds are allocated to SAAA, the board will review the salaries of the employees in administration.They do seem to be out of range for this area.Also check the credentials,and education of these same employees.Are they actually qualified to run this agency?Much is needed to restore the confidence of the public.When a former board member wins a raffle at the SAAA,it makes people wonder how legit this was.I am sure it was honest,however it poses a doubt in the minds of people they need to contribute.Clean up all the doubts,make EVERYTHING public,including salaries,qualifications,and especially how and where these monies will be used.The seniors desperately need the services,but taxpayers need to know how this money will be used.Salaries,insurance,or actually for the seniors?

      Wow, this is the great kind of attitude that causes Front Royal and Warren County to draw all the talent that it does. Why work in Small Minded Town making Small Bucks and dealing with ignorant hicks day in and day out when you could work somewhere more progressive and drive a *GASP* $50,000 car? Easy Street is also known as "the American Dream" and people with talent generally pursue it. Just give the job to Joe "Warren County Boy" Blow for $30,000 a year... and then in a year we will have another investigation into financial irregularities.

        Geoff--I understand your point that you have to offer adequate compensation to attract talented people to key positions in local agencies.

        However, when a local non profit agency supposedly exists ONLY for the purpose of providing services to local senior citizens including meals, personal care and housekeeping services , AND said agency has a long waiting list of seniors in need of those services, don't you see how people could question the need for the executive director to be provided with a very expensive car?

        Ignorant hicks? Small minded? Progressive executives drive $50k cars? Paying top salaries guarantees superior performance?

        A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

    Ok, here is a proposition: The Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging is requesting an additional $30,000 from the Warren County Board of Supervisors. According to Ms. Lauder, there are currently 21 senior citizens in Warren County on waiting lists for services. According the SAAA's website, a senior can be sponsored for one year at a cost of $1500. This $1500 covers the cost of meals and "services" ( By the way, a clearer definition of "services" provided to seniors for the $1500 would go a long way in regaining the public's trust. The term "meals" is self- explanatory, but what are the other "services" are included in the $1500?)
    If my math is correct, the additional $30,000 could virtually end the waiting list of Warren County seniors (one person would be left).

    If there was a way to actually verify that all the Warren County seniors (minus one) were receiving meals and "services" from SAAA for the next year perhaps the Warren County Suervisors would be willing to consider the additional funds.

    Speaking as an ex SAAA employee, transparency and accountability on the part of SAAA are the only way back from the financial crisis.

      It seems to me, since you obviously have a great deal of time on you hands, and you seem to know so much about SAAA that maybe you should volunteer your time and wealth of knowledge the really offer to help them. That is if you dou really care... Seems to me maybe you just like throwing rocks.. Are you ex SAAA Because you lost interest, or maybe they did not pay you enough... Just curious...

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