GARDEN CITY -- An agency that helps provide vital services for southwest Idaho's elderly and disabled could close at the end of the month. It's the result of a battle over funding that's been brewing for months.
The Idaho Council of Governments, or ICOG, has provided transportation, cleaning services and meals to Idaho's most vulnerable people for years.
Now, ICOG board members say they have no choice but to comply with the Idaho Commission on Aging, which is letting its contract with ICOG expire at the end of the month.
That means for the next few weeks, ICOG workers will be trying to make sense of this change.
Our main purpose is basically to help people stay in their homes as long as they possibly can by providing supportive services, said Sarah Scott, director of the agency.
Each day, employees with the private non-profit work with the elderly and disabled across 10 counties.
Right now we have a case load of approximately 4,300 clients, said Scott.
But the office could lose its clients at the end of June. Scott received a notice of action in late May.
It says the Idaho Commission on Aging, which in-part funds ICOG through state and federal grant money, is de-designating the agency and ending its contract due to serious deficiencies in the administration.
They are attempting as of July 1 to take over all of our operations, said Scott.
She told us the dispute started about a year ago, when she pointed out a problem with the Idaho Commission on Aging's funding formula.
In our 10 counties, we get approximately $27.92 per individual age 60 and older, said Scott. She told us the funding formula is flawed and other agencies that serve smaller regions get up to $43 per person in that same age range.
It's a discrepancy ICOG has taken to federal court.
We filed the lawsuit because we had hit a dead end with the Idaho Commission on Aging and Idaho officials, said Scott.
KTVB contacted the Idaho Commission on Aging (ICOA) for comment on the issue. In an email, Administrator Sam Haws said the ICOA has good reason for its decision to de-designate ICOG.
She also pointed to the notice of action sent to ICOG last month, which outlines several reasons for the decision. Those reasons include ICOG's unwillingness to provide requested documentation and an unwillingness to work together.
The notice also accuses ICOG of misallocating funds and its director of unprofessional conduct.
The conduct that they accuse me of in terms of being disruptive and divisive is purely focused on my attempts and the attempts of our ICOG board to keep the constituents in this 10-county area informed as to what is happening, said Scott.
Scott added that she believes ICOG's finances are in order.
As far as we know, we are absolutely in compliance, added Scott.
ICOG is considering its options and board members say they plan to appeal the state's decision before the current contract expires on June 30.
In the email sent to KTVB, Haws said ICOG has a right to pursue due process hearings if it wishes.
Meanwhile, Scott says 24 employees would lose their jobs if ICOG closes, although the Idaho Commission on Aging has said workers can re-apply for positions with the state to continue working with clients on a temporary basis.
The Idaho Commission on Aging says there will be no interruption in service for ICOG's current clients if the state takes over.