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The Flagler County Board of County Commissioners will soon revisit the option of turning its oversight of eldercare services to a Volusia County nonprofit, the Council on Aging. The shift was initially proposed in November, but the agency rescinded its proposal after a month of public opposition.
Still, officials say the transition could save upwards of $430,000 annually. And toward the end of the commission’s Monday, Aug. 13, workshop, board Chairwoman Barbara Revels broached the subject again, asking whether the commissioners would like to reconsider before their last budget hearings, in an effort to possibly reduce the proposed millage rate.
County Administrator Craig Coffey stated that even with the savings that transferring services might yield, this year’s millage rate would probably not drop. But the board still agreed to discuss the possibility further at its next workshop, Aug. 27.
“The reason it appealed to me,” Commissioner Milissa Holland explained, "is that once a Council on Aging is set up, you can have a nonprofit, which gives a better ability for (us) to raise (grants and other) funds. … We don’t have that ability today.”
Initially, Commissioner Alan Peterson said he was worried that there would be no protection for the county’s current senior-care providers, should oversight shift. But if a new proposal addresses that concern, he added, he would be “more than willing to look at it.”
Nate McLaughlin also worried that a change could “hurt our local guys,” but he was willing to talk further, as well.
The lone holdout on the board was Commissioner George Hanns, who said that a shift might lead to the loss of county property, an overreliance on grant funding, which is liable to one day dry up, and a decrease in the level of service to Flagler seniors.
And that last concern was Hanns’ greatest. When the Council on Aging first presented its proposal to the board, discussion quickly got heated between the two groups.
“They’d have to change their total personality to gain my support,” Hanns said, “because these people were rude to us. And if they were rude to us, they certainly won’t be sensitive to our senior residents’ needs.”
But for Peterson and Revels, last year’s meeting is water under the bridge.
“I think we got off on the wrong start with the presentation that was given to us, and we let some members of the public who were afraid of change and believed that it would be harmful to our citizens (affect our thinking),” Revels said.
“The only thing we have to lose,” Peterson added, “is our time.”
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