LaPorte County officials transfer Council on Aging duties to other agencies

2014-03-20T14:30:00Z 2014-03-20T23:03:25Z LaPorte County officials transfer Council on Aging duties to other agenciesStan Maddux Times Correspondent
March 20, 2014 2:30 pm  • 

LAPORTE | Two current not-for-profit organizations will take over the LaPorte County Council on Aging, a move to ensure rides to the doctor and other services continue for the elderly and disabled.

The LaPorte County Board of Commissioners approved a takeover Wednesday from Parents and Friends Inc., the group that operates the Council on Aging.

Michiana Resources, a group in Michigan City that provides services to the disabled, will assume the medical transportation services of the Council on Aging.

Harmony House/Court Appointed Special Advocate will take over the Council on Aging's guardianship program, which involves overseeing the finances of clients no longer capable of handling those matters for themselves.

Harmony House/CASA provides advocates for sexually abused or neglected children and a home environment for embattled parents to have a peaceful and safe child visitations.

The decision was based on the recommendation of a task force that studied ways to keep the services alive in February when Parents and Friends chose to close the Council on Aging, which was operating in the red.

Parents and Friends also serves the mentally and physically handicapped in a variety of ways, such as housing, and organizers believed continuing to operate the Council on Aging would put its remaining services in financial jeopardy.

Carl Scott, executive director of Parents and Friends, said the Council on Aging was operating at about a $500,000 annual deficit the past few years because federal dollars used to subsidize the transportation services was not keeping up with rising expenses.

He said more local government funding likely will be necessary even after the takeover because riders cannot afford higher user fees.

Currently, rides are offered at no or minimal cost.

"Some type of auxilary funding from the county, the state, from the city will have to prevail," Scott said.

LaPorte County Attorney Shaw Friedman said the money is necessary while efforts are undertaken to secure more grants, improve medicaid and medicare collections and improve efficiencies to make the services self-sustaining.

The LaPorte County Council must approve the proposed allocation, something that's expected to be considered at the council's meeting on Monday.

The transfer of the Council on Aging will save up to 130 jobs and rides for as many as 800 clients throughout the county, officials said.

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