During the 2014 budget hearing held on Tuesday, Nov. 12 several citizens commented on Lafayette County’s original stance and actions regarding funding for the SUN (Seniors United for Nutrition) program.
The program, which is a joint organization between Iowa County and Lafayette County had initially requested a total of $13,000 from Lafayette County for the 2014 year and $10,000 from Iowa County as more people are served through the program in Lafayette County.
Lafayette County responded to the request by promising $5,000 of the requested $13,000, but no more and that is what was budgeted for in the 2014 budget that was approved at a county board meeting later that night. Iowa County on the other hand, gave the full $10,000 that was requested of them.
However, at the budget hearing, several people involved with the program spoke on how it seemed absurd that Iowa County was willing to give the full amount asked, while Lafayette County was not and that it didn’t suggest a good partnership if Lafayette County was not willing to do their part.
A letter was read by Lafayette County Board chairman during the meeting from Iowa County board chairman David Bauer that explained that Iowa County supervisors had expressed concern about the sustainability of the SUN program when considering the joint funding between the two counties when they were informed that Lafayette County had only submitted a small portion of the amount that was requested of them.
The letter also stated that if nothing changed regarding the funding, Iowa County would be forced to also reduce their 2014 contribution proportionately and “would pursue senior nutrition options through other avenues that might include dissolving the long standing working relationship with Lafayette County.”
Sauer then stated that he had spoken with Kate Chamber of the Lafayette County Human Services department and had told her that he wasn’t in favor of more funding, but she then explained that if Iowa County dropped out, Lafayette County would have to do it on their own, as it is a mandated program.
“So I guess we don’t have a lot of choice other than to put the $8,000 in, is my opinion,” said Sauer.
The Lafayette County board discussed that instead of taking the money out of the 2014 budget, they would come up with the extra $8,000 from a different source.
Supervisor Wayne Wilson stated that he thought the Elderly and Handicapped Committee, of which he is a member, might be able to provide the $8,000 needed, but it could only be used in Lafayette County.
Sauer also brought up the idea of using some of the sales tax carryover to cover the $8,000 as a last resort. Nicola Maurer, Lafayette County finance director, said that was a possibility as there is currently about $100,000 left in that fund.
This topic will be on the agenda of an upcoming finance committee meeting as well as the next meeting of the Elderly and Handicapped committee in early December.