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: http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20081202/NEWS0108/812020316/1169/NEWS)
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.