MRDD faces layoffs and fewer programs

A public meeting is set for April 20 to explain the cuts.
AUSTINTOWN -- Staff layoffs and program cuts are taking place at Mahoning County Board for Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities in the wake of drastic funding cuts.
The board expects a $3 million loss this year because of the end of the Community Alternative Funding System program. CAFS is a type of Medicaid reimbursement for services to disabled MRDD-eligible individuals and disabled schoolchildren.
It pays for adult day programs such as the MASCO workshops, transportation and other services. The program ends June 30, resulting in the loss of $200 million statewide for MRDD boards and public schools.
At a meeting this week, Mahoning board members passed a motion instructing Superintendent Larry Duck to take the necessary steps to achieve a balanced budget this year.
Duck said that after the CAFS funding is ended and other state subsidies have been cut, the board projects annual revenue of about $21 million to run the MRDD programs.
The 2005 budget was set at $25.8 million, meaning that that $4.8 million must be cut from the budget, Duck said. The cutbacks will come from layoffs of direct services staff, management employees and cutbacks in various programs that the board has operated for years.
A public meeting will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. April 20 at the Leonard Kirtz School to discuss the cutbacks.
Duck said that at least 40 personnel are likely to be laid off because of the cuts. About 310 full-time people are employed by MRDD.
Layoff notices to instructional and noninstructional staff at the Leonard Kirtz School will be given out before April 30. Management employees work on one-year contracts. Those employees facing layoff will receive a notice of nonrenewal of their contracts by May 31.
Other cutbacks in programs and services will be announced during May and June. County MRDD superintendents from around the state are trying to obtain replacement funding from the state for the lost CAFS money.
Several ideas have been proposed but none is in place. Even if new proposals were enacted quickly, they would generate only a fraction of the dollars that are being lost, Duck said.
He noted that a mailing is being sent out to 1,175 families of consumers served by the Mahoning County MRDD explaining the CAFS issue.
In other business, the board passed a motion extending Duck's employment contract through May 31, 2009. The terms and provisions of the contract will be worked out over the next month. Duck was hired as superintendent in March 2001 replacing Charles Holden, who served as superintendent for about eight years.

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