Sunday, January 24, 2016

Washtenaw County deal to lessen impact of mental health cuts


"New deal to lessen impact of Washtenaw mental health cuts", by Ryan Stanton, 1/21/16: Supported employment programs to stay with WCCMH, skill building programs to be contracted out.  

Kelly Belknap, the county's chief financial officer, explains the financial implications of a compromise on mental health cuts:
"County officials are trying to close a $2 million-plus gap in the CMH budget, citing state cuts in mental health funding as the reason.

"While a number of cuts, including job eliminations, still are proposed under the new plan, they're viewed as less severe now.

"But the savings don't quite close the gap, so the labor unions are asking for $1.2 million in transitional funding to carry CMH through the end of 2016.

"This will allow them time to reorganize and restructure, so the savings that are needed will become structural starting in January 2017." ...

[County Commissioner] Rabhi offered his own take on the mental health cuts the county is forced to make, taking a shot at state leaders.

"'When you have tax cuts for the wealthiest Michiganders, and a lack of investment in our infrastructure and public services, those tax cuts roll downhill, and the budget cuts that happen roll downhill," he said. "And at the local level, where the rubber hits the road, where the services are important, this is where those cuts then come.'

"Rabhi mentioned the Flint water crisis, calling it another consequence of running the government like a business and putting money before people. He said the state is putting pressure on local government to drive down costs and pay workers low wages, and he considers that an unacceptable way to serve citizens."



Anonymous said...

I understand they are bringing in another provider that was there previously. I hope they are paying the same rate that other skill building provider are paid.

Jill Barker said...

According to a report given to the WCCMH Board on January 15, 2016, the contracted provider will offer employment to people currently working in the skill-building programs run by CMH. Those employees will get paid the same as now and, I think, receive an equivalent benefit package.
My sons do not attend these programs, so I do not know first-hand what will be involved in the transition to the new provider. There is an expectation that the CMH and the County will save money on this deal. I would ask the question, if everything remains the same with current employees, where will the "savings" come from? I know there is an expectation that many of the current employees could retire at this point.
The other question I have is, will newly-hired employees be paid the same as current employees if they have equivalent qualifications and experience?
The finances as described in the article are complex and I just don't know the answers to these questions or whether there will be future changes affecting the availability and quality of the skill-building programs.