Polk County Commissioners vote to take adult day money from fund balancePublished 11:10pm Monday, December 9, 2013
Polk County Commissioners approved a budget amendment to fund Rutherford Life Service’s adult day care in Polk County for up to six months.
Commissioners approved taking up to $21,000 out of its fund balance into the manager’s contracted services line item during a meeting held Dec. 2.
Polk County decided last month to fund the adult day care for up to six months after Rutherford Life Services Inc. announced it would close the center at the end of November. The county begins funding the adult day care this month.
The county named the adult day care center after Betsy Freeman and her late husband, Don Freeman. Freeman attended the Dec. 2 meeting and asked commissioners why the adult day center failed. She asked, since the center would be receiving this gift from the county, were there going to be improvements made?
“Are there any conditions in receiving this gift?” Freeman asked commissioners. “It seems to me they have to convince you all they are going to do to improve their marketing. They never advertised. I just wondered if conditions are going to improve.”
Commissioner Tom Pack clarified that the county funding the service is for Rutherford Life to continue operating until the county can find someone else to take it over.
“Someone who can make improvements,” Pack said. “The county manager is working with different entities trying to find someone to take it over.”
Interim county manager Marche Pittman added that the six months also gives Rutherford Life the opportunity to improve as well.
The county has agreed to fund the costs of operating the adult day care, located off Skyuka Road in Columbus behind the Meeting Place Senior Center, at a cost of up to $3,500 a month for six months.
Commissioners were told last month that the center would be closing Nov. 30 by Rutherford Life Services Executive Director Larry Brown. Brown said reductions in funding and low enrollment numbers forced the shutdown. He told commissioners that Polk’s center is licensed for 24 participants, but attendance has dropped to between eight and 12 people daily with 18 enrolled.
Commissioners said the center is near and dear to them and they want it to remain open in some form or fashion because they believe there is a great need in Polk County.
Polk’s Life Care Adult Day Health Center opened in December 2011 after a unique public/private partnership. Polk County provided the building and through fundraising and grants did renovations for an adult day care. Polk awarded a contract to Rutherford Life, which has a sister facility in Spindale, N.C., to operate the service.