Panel supports relief budget proposal

Fulton County Office for Aging/Youth Director Andrea Fettinger discusses state funding at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors' Human Services Committee Tuesday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — A Fulton County Board of Supervisors panel on Tuesday supported a $15 million state budget proposal to provide monetary relief for waiting lists maintained by offices for aging statewide.

The Human Services Committee approved a resolution on the recommendation of Fulton County OFA/Aging Director Andrea Fettinger at the County Office Building.

She said that in Fulton County, approximately $180,000 would potentially become available to remove about 50 persons on a list waiting for care.

“We haven’t had an increase in our funding in a very long time,” Fettinger said.

The proposed resolution — to be acted on by the full board March 11 — supports $15 million proposed in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2019-20 state budget to provide relief to OFA waiting lists.

The agency director noted the OFA provides programs and services for people 60 or older, their caregivers, families and others of all ages. Fettinger said there are currently Fulton County residents waiting for personal care services due to many factors, including lack of funds, shortage of home care aides, and limited availability of care in certain areas of the county. She said this service is used for respite for family caregivers and for preventing premature placement in a higher level of care.

Fettinger called the funding proposed in Albany “unprecedented” for agencies like her’s. She requested the Board of Supervisors support the funding and the manner in which funding will be distributed to OFAs. It would be distributed not by demographics that reduce the allocation and add a county match, but by distribution of funds related to factual reporting of numbers on waiting lists, she said.

She said Fulton County would be joining other counties — as well as the New York Association of Counties — in supporting the governor’s proposal.

She suggested that after county legislative approval, the county might want to seek the support of state Sen. James Tedisco and state Assemblyman Robert Smullen.

“I think this money would really help us,” Fettinger said.