Senior services fund balance growing

ST. CLAIRSVILLE Belmont County Commissioners heard a report Wednesday from the Department of Job and Family Services regarding the state of senior services during that agency’s tenure. DJFS Fiscal Administrator Vince Gianangeli gave the report.

He reported that the county DJFS officially assumed management of senior service programs Oct. 1, 2011, beginning with a fund balance of $3,671,042. Exactly two years later, the balance was $5,287,094.

“Due to the efforts of all Belmont County Senior Services staff, we were able to add $1,616,052 to the fund balance,” said Gianangeli. “This was largely possible by maintaining our operating costs well under actual receipts during this time frame. One of the largest areas of savings was administrative costs.”

He noted that in the combined DJFS some employees were considered shared employees and performed duties on behalf of the whole agency with only a portion of wages and benefits charged to senior programs.

Local levy funds consist of three separate levies totaling 3 mills, which amount to about $3.3 million annually. An additional $700,000 is received from the Area Agency on Aging for Title 3, Passport, Waiver, HEAP, and Senior Community State Block Grant, and donations from seniors for meals, homecare and transportation services. Annual expenses average about $3.2 million. The excess of income over expense resulted in an $808,000 annual increase to the levy fund balance.

He pointed out that these increases were able to be realized while enhancing services. Clients for home-delivered meals increased 17 percent with about 2,000 more meals monthly beyond 2011 numbers. This meant added food costs and labor preparation. Congregate meals were consistent with 2011. They also saw a 10 percent increase in homecare units, resulting in additional costs paid to five home health agencies. There was a decrease of 4.5 percent in transportation trips, resulting in gasoline savings.

Gianangeli also noted their work in saving levy dollars during 25 months of operating the programs.

“Everyone’s hard work and dedication is what really helped save money and add to the fund balance, and now we can set aside $2 million for capital improvements,” he said.

These improvements include $250,000 earmarked for Flushing facilities, $250,000 for St. Clairsville facilities, and $1.5 million for new kitchen facilities.

“I am elated that we had a successful closeout and a smooth transition with constant work between the JFS team and the new Senior Services team, we saw our senior services department up Nov. 1,” said DJFS Interim Director Lisa Fijalkowski. “Both departments should be proud of what we were able to accomplish. A smooth transition without loss of one benefit for a senior.”

She added that the transition included switching computers and equipment and transferring leases during the process from Oct. 1-Nov. 1. She credited the dedicated staff.

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