Beaufort County considers adding $100,000 to Senior Services

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 10, 2014 

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  • Meetings of note

    Beaufort County Council announced several meeting dates Monday:

    • The council will hold its annual meeting this week, beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday in the large meeting room in the Bluffton library at 120 Palmetto Way. Meetings will continue at the library all day Friday and Saturday morning.
    • The council's Finance Committee will meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday to discuss how much money the county should hold in reserves. The committee will meet in the executive conference room of the county administration building at 100 Ribaut Road in Beaufort.
    • A public workshop to discuss the county's business-license rules has been tentatively rescheduled for March 11, Councilman Jerry Stewart said. The workshop was postponed from Jan. 29 because of weather.

The nonprofit group Senior Services of Beaufort County could get an extra $100,000 in funding from County Council, enough to continue its home care, counseling and outreach to senior citizens through June.

Because of fewer donations and a reduction in grants from both the federal government and other nonprofit organizations, Senior Services faced a shortfall and approached Beaufort County for support at the end of 2013, county community services director Morris Campbell told council Monday.

Senior Services is one of 135 agencies in the Human Services Alliance of Beaufort County, which works with county government. In December, council allocated about $600,000 to alliance members for 2014, including $45,000 to Senior Services.

But in the past three years, the amount the county has contributed to alliance members has decreased by more than $100,000, Campbell said.

"A lot of agencies have taken it on the chin and have reduced their level of services," Campbell said.

Campbell said he hopes the council will give Senior Services further funding while the organization looks further into the future of its finances.

"We're looking at opportunities to ensure the folks they've been serving are still served in some capacity," Campbell said.

Senior Services offers meals, counseling and transportation to senior citizens who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it.

Senior Services programs could be combined those by similar agencies, and the county could reevalute how much it support it gives the organization each year, Campbell said.

The council gave unanimous preliminary approval to the supplemental appropriation Monday, but final approval requires two more votes and a public hearing.

Councilman Brian Flewelling said he wants to see more detailed information about the organization's finances.

"I'll be investigating a little bit further to see if we can fill this gap without the county having to take such a share," Flewelling said.

In other action, council members unanimously approved changes to county purchasing policies.

Under old rules, purchases of more than $10,000 required county administrator approval. Purchases over $25,000 required council committee approval, and purchases of more than $50,000 require County Council approval.

The new rule increases those limits, so that purchases amounting to more than $50,000 would require council committee approval, and purchases of more than $100,000 would require council approval.

County administrator Gary Kubic has said the new limits will help streamline the purchasing for smaller items and services while still asking the council to sign off on big-ticket purchases.

Council members agreed the change could help improve productivity, but also requested the administration regularly report on the purchases or contracts made under the new rules.

Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.

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