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County severs ties with NARCOG

Morgan County Commission officially severed all ties to the North-Central Alabama Regional Council of Governments (NARCOG) and set in motion plans to establish its own Aging and Senior Services Program.

Acting on separate resolutions, the governing body voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the withdrawal of its membership effective June 9 and start up its own Department of Aging and Senior Services effective Oct. 1.

“We’re required by contract to give 60 days notice of our intent to withdraw membership,” said Chairman Ray Long, “but we’re going to honor all of our commitments.”

District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark said he had received queries about the proposed change from a couple of senior citizens.

“They wanted to know if they would continue to receive the benefits and services they now get from NARCOG. I told them that was my understanding,” Clark said.

“They’re not going to lose anything,” stated Long. “In fact, we’re going to save money on salaries by setting up our own program. My goal is to use any savings to improve and add benefits for our seniors.”

“I think this is a good move and I will support it fully,” said District 3 Commissioner Don Stisher. “I thank the chairman for all of the background work he has done on this and making sure that everything is in order when we set up our own program.”

Long said he planned to hand deliver a letter of intent to withdraw membership to NARCOG Tuesday afternoon and also notify state authorities of the commission’s action.

The county, based on current population data, stands to receive about $2 million from the state to operate aging and senior services activities in fiscal 2012-2013, according to Long.

Debra Gardner, who currently manages the county’s nine senior centers among other aging services, will assume management of the new Aging and Senior Services Department, in addition to directing functions of Morgan Country Area Transportation Service (MCATS).

“We may have to hire a couple of people to assist her,” Long said, “But we won’t make a decision on that until we’re closer to activating the department.”