Monday, December 1, 2008

Budget Myth and Fact #2: Cuts To JFS

One of the toughest areas of our budget involves our Department of Jobs and Family Services. I am receiving many comments and emails from affected employees and concerned citizens, and I see that there is also discussion on other blogs and in public meetings about these cuts, where they are coming from, why they are happening now (ie., before other departments in the county), etc. All good questions, and please keep them coming.

It doesn't make the job any easier, but the most important fact related to all this is that the cuts to these services come directly from the state, and there is little that County JFS can do but implement them as best they can, and do all they can to minimize the impact on services and County employees. But sadly, given the drastic nature of the cuts being passed down, avoiding layoffs is simply impossible.

(Today's Enquirer provided a very sobering story about the state's budget:

Here are the basic facts as it relates to JFS:

1. JFS funding comes almost entirely from the state and federal governments (the County provides $1 million out of the more than $1.37 billion JFS receives from all sources).

2. Most important, in 2008, the state allocated about $95 million for JFS administrative services, which is what pays for the basic operation of the many programs overseen by JFS, including employee positions and salaries. That number was $115M in 2007.

3. As part of its drastic budget shortfall, the State required a 5% reduction for Hamilton County JFS this fall, resulting in a $2.6 million cut in these administrative services. Another 10-11% cut is projected in a few months. The 2009 JFS Administrative Services budget will therefore be about $86.9M. (One of the reasons that the cuts began right away is because JFS works within the state's 2009 fiscal year budget, which began in July 2008).

4. Overall, Hamilton County expects to see that decrease again in 2010 ($74.9M) and 2011 ($72.8M). Overall, this is a 40% total cut over a five-year period. Again, all of these cuts are coming from the state--the County has no control over them whatsoever.

To deal with these cuts, JFS has a) made cuts to existing contracts by millions of dollars; b) instituted a hiring freeze; c) reducing available overtime; and other measures.

But again, and unfortunately, none of these measures is sufficient to avoid the layoffs that have begun. As in the other areas where we're having to make cuts, it is an incredibly difficult situation.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Pepper:

Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem. What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test.

Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them? Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their ass doing drugs, making babies etc. while I work...Can you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check?

I guess we could title the program, 'Urine or You're Out'.

Anonymous said...

Boy, that comment sounds real simplistic - until you factor in children. So, if mom smokes a joint we should take away the food for the entire family or just cut her off the food stamp allocation and PRETEND that the kids aren't going to suffer along with her. C'mon, that's stupid.
If you believe your client is on drugs - you know the procedure - report them to 241KIDS - if not, keep you're assumed prejudices, biases, and stereotypes in your own little imagination.

As to Pepper's dispelling the myths - applause, applause, applause!!! Please include these in a joint letter to the editor - I think it's important to clarify for JFS employees and the public who demands cuts to these programs as ameans of solving budget problems.

Excellent. (Why don't you commissioners send an email to all JFS employees, too)

Anonymous said...

I understand the necessity of making the cuts occur promptly within JFS but the undignified way in which the first two rounds of cut were handled is disgraceful. The elimination of the position of administrative assistants as a whole could have been accomplished with respect for the people holding the positions. Instead, the employees were summoned to the HR department, told their job was eliminated immediately and then they were escorted back to their desks and given thirty minutes to clean out their desks. For all of the dedication and support they have shown to the agency, they were treated like convicted criminals. They were escorted out of the building and that was their last day as a county employee. Thank you very much JFS management, you have just dehumanized some of your best and brightest.

Arnie said...

Why not raise the motor vehicle permit at County parks from the miniscule $5.00 annual permit to $10. That is really inexpensive for a vehicle containing several persons. Along with the permit the user receives free coupons. It might be okay for a single user.

Anonymous said...

The lay offs continue at JFS and in the third round (which I was in)the same thing basically happened. All the years of dedication and unpaid extra hours that was done away from my family...if our jobs were not esstential why are the higher paid bosses having people call us at home to get answers about specific policy/procedures to complete our previous job functions?

Anonymous said...

Say, how's the study & research going on the feasibility of charging a per diem to those fine, fine citizens locked up in the county jail?

If I recall correctly, some lady brought that up last year at the budget hearings. I think she gave one of the Commissioners a stack of papers supporting the charges.

I wouldn't think by the size of the stack of the papers it would take one whole year to get this business going. It's too bad for JFS, but the taxpayers only have so much to go around. We're barely making ends meet ourselves. It's way overdue to hold the freeloaders to some accountable standard.

The free food giveaway after the windstorm-power outage was a huge mistake. JFS wouldn't even talk to me. But we got by on cold cereal, oatmeal, spam, canned tuna fish & day old bread from the bakery thrift store. Yeah, that's right. The store brand spam.

I also agree with the urine testing. I have a job & I am tested at random every couple of years. What's the difference? You test dirty, you're out of a job. The kids suffer, too. So, why is it such a different hardship with those living on the taxpayer largesse? What's good for one is good for all. We're all equal.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:07 p.m....
Spoken like a true liberal. It is just fine for the folks in this county who do nothing but drag the area down to just keep doing what they are doing. Don't attempt to educate yourselves or find a job, if you cannot afford the children you should not have more.

Is this also simplistic? You no doubt think that Portune and Pepper do a great job. They will in fact drag the county down the tubes like they helped with the City.

I remember the City and how nice life was prior to the riots. Luken and is buddies let the thugs run wild and it worse every year. If you do not work downtown or go to a game...why go into the City?

I also remember so many areas which were great places to live and raise a family, so many of them are now high crime areas,do I have to tell you why?

Anonymous said...

Here is where many of our tax dollars are going. I would not refer to them as parents.Judge Nadel was not hard enough on them. I cannot imagine someone beating a 23 month old infant with a belt. What a tough guy. Kentucky is looking better every day.

Anonymous said...

Fact: the average welfare recipient has 1.2 kids (the stereotype occurs so infrequently that even the worse of the worse we're now seeing in the news is by far the exception to the rule.
Fact: the average length of time a family is on cash assistance is 6 months (same scenario as above)
Fact: persons receiving welfare cash payments must engage in verifiable work activities: work, school, training, remdial job preparation programs, etc. The exception is those recipients under disability verified by the greuling prcesses of the social security administration if they exceed a short term.
Fact: most people receiving food stamps, day care assistance, child support help, etc. work full time jobs

Not so simplistic when you know the facts however inconvenient it is to an argument.

I don't condone any drug use - but the last 3 presidents of this country admit they have smoked pot; a couple admit to using cocaine; one admits he is an alcoholic -- these men came from families that provided them every opportunity and a tremendously strong family support structure --- yet they made mistakes.

What would you have them do? Take children away and put them in foster care in order to keep the food on the table from otherwise law-abiding parents.

Short term, small picture thinking got this country right where it is - I'm glad we have current commissioners that think big picture and have the guts to deal with the mess they inherited.

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