To accommodate nearly $2 million in employee raises and benefits next year, double that the following year and maybe throw in costs for a new County building, Inyo officials are busy looking for ways to cut costs and consolidate services. They call it “Service Redesign.” Thursday, Inyo County department heads met in another workshop to brainstorm cost savings. One of the topics pointed at the Senior Citizen Meal Program.
Senior Citizens started to call Health and Human Services Director Jean Turner with fears that their program would fall through or go down hill. Turner said repeatedly to us that no decisions have been made. She did confirm that an idea came out of the Service Redesign talks about consolidating food and laundry service among the Jail, Juvenile Center and Senior Centers.
Turner said she has been asked to analyze this possibility. She said Senior programs are costly and that her department has reduced administrative costs since the County took over the programs. Turner said she and other officials are a long way from decisions, but she realizes there are fears of job losses. Turner said if changes do occur, there is a commitment to find jobs within County government, if possible, for displaced workers. Although she noted that there is a hiring freeze now on.
Turner confirmed that she and Sheriff Bill Lutze will meet with Lone Pine senior citizens and Senior Center employees next Tuesday at noon to tell them face to face where things stand. Turner repeated that no decisions have been made and the process is ongoing.
Turner and the Sheriff will meet with Bishop seniors at the Bishop Senior Center next Wednesday around 11:45am. Said Turner, “I want them to hear directly from us. I understand the fear that is attached to change.” She also said that Senior Programs in other parts of the State use vendors and frozen meals for Seniors. She said at least the Jail kitchen would mean fresh food cooked locally.