Commissioners also approved an additional $50,000, totaling $100,000, that ASA could utilize in May should the agency need it. The $100,000 is an advance against the agency’s 2012/13 budget appropriation.
ASA, a comprehensive service provider to the county’s elderly and disabled, had requested a minimum of $125,000 on April 2 to meet its mid-April payroll. In total, ASA was seeking $267,284 before commissioners finalize and adopt the county’s 2012/13 budget by June 30.
Monday afternoon’s decision followed two open session meetings, one on April 2, and the second Monday, where Ashe County Manager Pat Mitchell detailed ASA’s situation to commissioners.
ASA has received $315,000 from commissioners each of the past four years. Mitchell indicated ASA would request an additional $185,000 for the 2012/13 year, which would total $500,000 for the upcoming fiscal year.
Director of Ashe Services for Aging Jane Banks , said in early April, ASA was in danger of missing it’s mid-April payroll. On Monday, however, she told the commissioners the agency would be able cover payroll without the county’s assistance. Over the past two weeks, ASA had refiled Medicaid reimbursements that had initially been denied, and were able to secure an additional $20,000, enough to cover this pay period, according to Banks.
ASA’s financial issues began in mid-2009, according to Mitchell, when the non-profit learned it would be forced to take a 5 percent cut in Medicaid reimbursements. An additional 2.67 percent cut followed in 2011/12, meaning ASA would be forced to operate on 7.67 percent less than in the 2008/09 year.
Between June 2009 and June 2011, ASA received $430,000 less than it would have prior to the reimbursement cut, according to Banks.
Banks said the cuts will cost ASA an additional $92,111 for the year ending June 2012. In total, the loss in reimbursements will cost ASA $522,111 between June 2009 and June 2012.
“The problem started with the Medicaid reimbursements,” said Banks. “There were then additional cuts for our caseworkers in terms of the number of hours they could charge. They were limited to a total of three hours by the state. They would often work more, but could not charge more than three hours.”
Banks also said the Medicaid reimbursements came at an inopportune time. ASA had already started construction on the Assisted Living Center when they learned of the 5 percent cut.
“We’d been approved, secured the loan, and started construction on the Assisted Living Center when we found out about the cut,” said Banks.
The Assisted Living Center is also operating at a loss, according to Banks. The center currently has 35 residents, but needs a minimum of 45 to break-even.
“We’ve added five in the month of March,” said Banks. “And we think we’re close to adding two more in April, which will bring us to 37. But we need 45 to break even.”
The center has a total of 55 beds. 24 are allocated to the Memory Care section, with an additional 31 in assisted living. Memory Care currently houses 18 residents (75 percent occupancy), while there are 17 residents in Assisted Living (54 percent occupancy).
“It takes time to fill those beds up,” said Banks. “We’ve been open for 12 months, and we’re ahead of the schedule that we set.”
Banks said applicants for the center must demonstrate need, and apply for assistance through the Ashe County Department of Social Services.
“Some qualify, while some do not,” said Banks. “The applicant also has to decide if they want to move now or wait.”
Information provided by Mitchell shows that anticipated operating cash for the assisted living center will show a loss of $19,634 for the month of March. Senior Center operating cash shows an anticipated loss of $31,179 for March.
Six month projections show a projected loss of $201,588 by Aug. 31, 2012 for Assisted Living, and a projected $140,250 loss on the same date for the Senior Center.
Mitchell told commissioners Monday that at least three ASA programs are losing money, including the child day care program, which is currently showing a loss of $81,000.
“Why such a tremendous deficit there?” Commissioner William Sands asked Mitchell.
Mitchell said the figure also included a portion of the agency’s overhead costs, including facility and administrative costs, but even without overhead, the program is still losing money.
Banks said Tuesday that ASA has made changes to child daycare by raising rates in January, cutting costs, and delaying the hiring of a child daycare teacher.
“We’ve rearranged classrooms in an attempt to maximize revenue,” said Banks. “But the program does need to be able to stand on its own.”
According to Banks and Mitchell, ASA took steps in February and March to decrease expenses that could save the agency as much as $251,918 over the next 12 months.
“Here’s what we’re doing,” said Banks. “These are the steps that we’re taking. We hope commissioners will be able to help us get over these problems and get back on our feet.”
Over the next 12 months, ASA hopes to save $32,936 by discontinuing their 6 percent 401K match for employees, $45,253 by discontinuing longevity bonuses, $23,680 by laying off three part-time employees, $17,247 by discontinuing a PTO plan for Adult Day Care and Child Day Care, $79,656 by decreasing paid holidays from 11 to five, $23,462 by increasing employee contributions for insurance coverage, and $7,924 by delaying the hiring of a Child Day Care teacher.
Ashe Services for Aging provides services for seniors and disabled adults including delivered meals, adult day health care, child day care, assisted living, and in-home aide. ASA also operates a senior center for older adults, and Generations Day Care, one of three intergenerational day care programs in the state.
Ashe Services for Aging was founded in 1977 as Ashe County Council on Aging to provide needed services to the elderly of Ashe County. The name was changed in 1993 to help identify ASA as an independent, non-profit agency, separate from county government.
Ashe Services for Aging, Inc. employs over 200 individuals to provide in-home aide services, on-site and home delivered meals, Senior Center activities, and Intergenerational Day Care.