While East Baton Rouge Council on Aging Executive Director Tasha Clark Amar tried to rally support Thursday from clients of the embattled agency, exhorting the seniors to "win this together," Metro Councilman Dwight Hudson was across town drafting a proposal that would give voters the chance to rededicate the tax they approved for the agency in late 2016.
The Council on Aging has been in the news since the agency began campaigning for the tax last year. Auditors later said the agency's campaign practices may have broken both state and federal laws. The Metro Council have delayed levying the Council on Aging's tax until after the audit was released.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging may have violated state and federal laws in fou…
Hudson's proposal would change the language of the tax "to provide services to elderly citizens in the parish of East Baton Rouge" as opposed to the current version that requires the Council on Aging to be the recipient of the tax revenue. City-parish leaders could determine which agencies to contract with to receive the money and to provide the services the Council on Aging is known for, like Meals on Wheels and home visits to care for seniors.
"The intention is to make sure that the public knows we want this money to remain for the seniors," said Hudson, a Republican. "It could still go to the Council on Aging if they were to clean up their act a little and change the way they operate."
Despite the Council on Aging recently instituting a conflict-of-interest policy, changing some bylaws and adding new board members, Hudson said he would need to see more of an overhaul before agreeing to give tax funds to the agency. He said he was disappointed that Baton Rouge Republican state Rep. Steve Carter's HB 199 failed in committee on May 11, as it would have changed the makeup of the council's board.
A bill cast as a way to add accountability to the embattled East Baton Rouge Council on Agin…
One major change Hudson is advocating involves the Council on Aging's leadership. He previously said Amar needed to resign after the family of a now-deceased client accused Amar of coercing their elderly grandmother into leaving Amar in charge of her estate.
Amar stood to collect $120,000 over 20 years from the deal, but stepped away from that role after media coverage. The dispute between Amar and the family, however, has not ended. Amar is now suing the family for defamation, claiming their statements caused her pharmaceutical expenses, emotional distress and loss of earning potential.
City Court Judge Tarvald Smith lifted a broad temporary restraining order Wednesday that blo…
She tried to rally the seniors around her Thursday at the agency's annual meeting in which more than 250 Council on Aging members voted on the new board members. Amar said she was "personally grateful" for prayers and love that seniors have sent her.
"I'm learning your hardest times often lead to your greatest moments of your life," Amar said while standing in the failed Florida Boulevard bingo hall that the Council on Aging sunk more than $200,000 on in 2015 and that the agency now uses as an event space.
The East Baton Rouge Council on Aging ended the last fiscal year with a $202,000 deficit, ac…
She said she's keeping her faith and she's learned "to hold it together when they want you to fall apart."
"That's what true strength is," Amar said. "I want you to know I'm standing strong for you and with you and we're going to win this together."
The Council on Aging board also held a meeting late Thursday afternoon and elected new officers, agreed to a conflict-of-interest policy for board members, approved an emergency preparedness plan, and green-lighted an amended budget.
The East Baton Rouge Council on Aging board adopted a conflict-of-interest policy for employ…
Chief Financial Officer Eva Pratt showed board members the 2018 proposed budget, but she said she did not include the new tax money because of it being in flux. The proposed 2018 budget is for $2.9 million instead of the $7.8 million annual budget the Council on Aging has expected with the tax revenue.
The new board chair is attorney Jennifer Moisant. Asked after the meeting about Hudson's proposal, Moisant said she had not had time yet to fully review it.
"I obviously wouldn't want to do anything that would be detrimental to the agency," she added.
Council on Aging Executive Director Tasha Clark-Amar's own mother, Janice Clark, was assigne…