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Another agency hit by shutdown

By Keith Strange Staff Reporter

October 11, 2013

Starting Monday, the staff at the Piedmont Triad Regional Council Area Agency on Aging (AAA) will be a little thinner.


According to Blair Barton Percival, director of the agency, staff furloughs will take effect Monday, cutting the entire part-time staff and reducing the agency’s full-time staff’s hours.


Percival said Thursday that the reductions in staff hours will cut three part-time positions entirely and reduce the hours worked by the AAA’s full-time staff by 25 percent.


He noted that recent inaction in Washington has directly impacted the agency’s operations.


“Where we are is we are feeling the effects of the government shutdown,” a frustrated Percival said. “The AAA administers more than $12 million in combined federal, state and local funding each year used to underwrite vital services for the elderly, individuals with disabilities and their caregivers in the 12-county area of the Piedmont Triad.”


That area includes Surry County.


The majority of the funding originates from the federal government, and the shutdown has quashed that funding.


“There is no budget in place for our agency,” Percival said. “When you go to Raleigh, the state Division of Aging began furloughing staff last week.”


He said that he will do everything in his power to continue to administer services to the elderly in the Triad.


“Technical assistance for the community, funded entities, seniors and others, as well as advocacy, training, education, quality assurance and planning will be limited and delayed by the reduction in staff time… And there will be occasions when we cannot respond promptly to requests for information or assistance with issues,” Percival warned. “Please be patient. We will be under very tight operational status for most services and programs, however, some AAA staff will be available during business hours.


“We will continue to operate our services like Meals on Wheels, transportation and care-giving,” he said. “At this point, the funds earmarked for those services aren’t impacted,” he added. “But that’s just at this point.”


The furloughs will continue through October, or until the end of the shutdown, he added, noting that more staffing cuts could be on the horizon if the shutdown drags on.


“If we go into November, things could change again for the worse,” Percival said. “Everyone is uncertain, and everyone is waiting to see whether they raise the debt ceiling. That’s going to be a pivotal point if they don’t address it.”


Reach Keith Strange at kstrange@civitasmedia.com or 719-1929.