The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners approved budget modifications on September 15th in response to state cuts while preserving critical services for residents. The board, which in June approved the annual budget for fiscal year 2011-12, voted 5-0 to address a $12 million shortfall created by recently announced state reductions. Click here to see which county services are and aren't being cut following the modifications. The Chair of the Central Citizen Budget Advisory Committee (CCBACC) announced on September 13th that the CBACs supported the approach that the board was using to address the state cuts.
The board decided to use roughly $8.3 million from the county’s general fund and its reserves to prioritize the mental health crisis system, long-term care services for seniors, juvenile gang intervention and jail beds.
Chair Jeff Cogen said that while the board’s actions will enable county residents to continue receiving assistance, the future for programs and services remains uncertain.
“We’re not totally in the clear,” Cogen said. “Looming state and federal cuts could force us to re-examine our budget again soon meaning we may have to make more cuts. Our situation is dire.”
The board also decided to continue funding three additional programs that address housing services, homelessness and domestic violence victims. Highlights include:
- Providing nearly $3.5 million to the county’s Mental Health & Addiction Services Division for mental health services, including funding the Mental Health Call Center, supporting mental health treatment and medications for the uninsured.
- Adding $1.3 million to the county’s Aging & Disability Services. The funds will cover 14 case managers, three abuse investigators and access and early intervention services for seniors in Oregon Project Independence, a program that provides daily in-home services to people who don’t qualify for Medicaid.
- The Department of Community Justice absorbed nearly $97,000 in cuts elsewhere in the department to sustain gang transition services, including community and juvenile detention, electronic monitoring and the Gang Resource Intervention team.
- Giving $894,000 to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to preserve 59 jail beds from a total of 1,310, and continuing to offer the courthouse Turn Self In jail program.
In anticipation of such cuts, the board set aside about $1.5 million in ongoing county general fund money and $4.5 million in one-time-only money to address reductions in this year’s budget. The board voted Thursday to earmark $500,000 for anti-poverty services should there be federal cuts that affect programs such as the Community Services Block Grant, the Low Income Energy Assistance Program and the Weatherization Program.
Commissioners also asked the Department of County Human Services to study and present options on future sustainability measures for the Call Center and crisis services, both of which received one-time-only money to mitigate cuts. The board directed the Commission on Children, Families and Community to reduce administration costs to fund a 0.75 FTE youth development position to support the Multnomah Youth Commission.