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Cass County Board: Aging council shares report with board

Brainerd Dispatch

TURTLE LAKE TOWNSHIP—Lori Vrolson, Central Minnesota Council on Aging executive director, reported Tuesday, May 21, to the Cass County Board on services that organization provided in 2018 under a $3.7 million budget.

The Council on Aging coordinates programs designed to help older Americans remain in their homes longer with support services. It covers 14 counties, including Cass and Crow Wing.

Twenty-nine percent of Cass County's population is age 65 or older, compared with 17% statewide, Vrolson reported. Cass' over 65 population is expected to grow to 33.5% by 2030.

In 2018, the Council on Aging received $991,289 in federal funds, $2,470,725 in state funds, $50,672 in county funds, $36,867 in United Way grants, $141,405 in other grants, $707 in interest and $45,219 from other sources for $3,734,884 total income.

Cass County contributed $3,040 in 2018.

The Council on Aging's $3,720,696 expenditures largely went to the $2,168,736 spent on salaries and benefits and $1,088,907 spent on contracted services, with the balance going to the cost of operating an office and training programs.

The Council on Aging works to connect people with services they need to live independently. These services include congregate and delivered meals, rides to services, homemaker and chore services, respite care and legal assistance.

It operates the Senior LinkAge Line at 800-333-2433 to answer questions and help make referrals for seniors and their caregivers.

Vrolson said the Council on Aging currently is working to get special state legislation to make changes to state regulations that have made volunteering less appealing to drivers who take seniors to medical appointments and shopping.

Those volunteers who drive their own cars are paid only mileage for their services. Current Minnesota law lumps them with Uber drivers and requires them to pay income tax on the mileage reimbursement.

State law also led insurers to require commercial driver auto insurance rather than letting drivers use their personal insurance unless they are backed by a government insurance policy like a county's. Commercial insurance costs more than private insurance.

Vrolson said the Council on Aging has been lobbying the Legislature to attempt to change these statutes.