20 lose jobs at agency for jobs
By Peter H. Milliken
The JFS has lost $5 million in state and federal funding the last two years.
YOUNGSTOWN — A Mahoning County official said clients of the Department of Job and Family Services should expect to wait longer to receive services.
Budget woes in the department prompted the county commissioners to unanimously authorize about 20 JFS layoffs and job abolitions at the agency.
Judee Genetin, acting JFS director, however, declined to provide details, saying she needed to discuss the matter first with labor unions representing JFS employees.
Commissioner John A. McNally IV said he believes the employees will be laid off later this year due to the department’s budget woes. JFS, which is located at Oakhill Renaissance Place, employs about 300 workers.
The department expects income of about $16.9 million and expenses of about $17.5 million for the fiscal year that began July 1, Genetin said. “It changes daily and weekly. It’s kind of a moving target,” she told the commissioners.
The budget figures Genetin gave the commissioners Thursday reflect the financial position of JFS after a $5 million combined loss in federal and state funds over the past two years.
To cope with a series of cuts in state funding, JFS imposed a hiring freeze in January 2008. It also terminated its contracts with various social service agencies earlier this year to save about $850,000.
“I believe clients and customers are always inconvenienced by these layoffs, but the fact remains that we have to deal with the budget that’s coming down to us,” McNally said. The layoffs will result in longer waits by clients for service, he added.
“We’re asking people to wait when they can’t wait. You can’t wait to get into a nursing home or have food or to get medical care,” Genetin said.
“Everything we’re trying to do is to serve more people with less. Our lobby is full and more full every day, and we’re seeing many, many people that have never been involved with our agency in the past,” Genetin told the commissioners.
“Some of the routine day-to-day stuff that has to get done is going to take a little bit longer if you don’t have the staff in place to do it,” McNally said. He added, however, that he hopes “some reorganization within the department will help reduce the potential delays and shortcomings that may develop.”
Asked whether he considers the layoffs temporary or permanent, McNally said: “We’ll see what the future holds.”
Commissioner David N. Ludt said he couldn’t quantify the layoffs, saying the exact number of furloughs is undetermined because the exact amount of state funding to JFS for this fiscal year is unknown.
“If they make more cuts, there’s going to be more layoffs,” he said of the state. “If I give you a number today, it could be wrong,” he added.
“It’s reasonable to expect that next year is going to very similar to this year, where you’re going to see constant corrections,” in budgets due to shortages in tax collections due to the under-performing economy,” said George J. Tablack, county administrator.
“The final plan hasn’t been presented to the board [of commissioners]. This just allows the director to begin notices,” of layoffs, said Tablack, who deferred further inquiry to Genetin.