Trumbull MRDD to cut staff


NILES — Cuts in federal funding and higher operating costs will result in staffing and program cuts of up to $1 million sometime this year for the Trumbull County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

Dr. Douglas A. Burkhardt, superintendent, said he and other administrators have begun talking to staff members about the cuts and will recommend about 19 or 20 staffing cuts to the board at its meeting in February.

Burkhardt said that after cutting $750,000 to $1 million from the MRDD’s $23 million budget this year, it is likely MRDD will ask voters for additional money at the polls in 2008.

Burkhardt said it is too soon to identify specific employees or departments where layoffs will occur among the agency’s 350 workers. An additional $100,000 to $200,000 will be cut from programs, he said.

Burkhardt said there are three primary reasons for the cuts:

• A federal program called Community Alternative Funding System (CAFS) was eliminated in 2006, costing the agency millions, Burkardt said.

•   The federal government will require the agency to re-evaluate all of the adults living in privately run residential services programs in 2007. Burkhardt said he believes the result will be that the program operators will have to be paid higher rates per person than at present. He predicts the higher cost to the agency will be about $1 million per year.

• Likewise, MRDD will be required to evaluate staffing levels in the adult services areas, such as workshops where retarded individuals are employed. Burkhardt predicted the additional cost to the agency of the additional services that will be required by the federal government after that evaluation will also be about $1 million per year.

Burkhardt noted the agency had to make cuts in 2001.

Vindicator files indicate the agency laid off 27 employees that year to reduce the agency’s $16.5 million budget by $1.8 million to compensate for reductions in levy and Medicaid revenue.

MRDD has seven facilities: Fairhaven school, three workshops, a transportation department, a seniors program and a school-to-work training program.

An MRDD tax issue was last on the ballot in November 2005, when voters approved a 2.25-mill, 10-year replacement levy. Burkhart said at the time that failure of that levy would have resulted in layoffs for 113 employees.

MRDD also has a 1.5-mill levy expiring in 2012, but also has a 1-mill continuing levy.

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