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Mahoning children services loses staff, struggles financially



Published: Wed, May 15, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken

milliken@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

As the Mahoning County Children Services Board’s fate remains in limbo, it continues to lose staff and struggle financially.

The board accepted the retirements Tuesday of Philip Murphy, an abuse-unit supervisor, and Don Finzer, a quality-assurance manager; and the resignations of two caseworkers, two youth leaders and an information-technology data processor.

These departures follow the resignation or retirement of two-thirds of CSB’s top management team within the first four months of this year, beginning with the Jan. 1 retirement of Denise Stewart, who had been the board’s executive director since 1998.

Retiring effective April 30 were Daniel Thomas, the board’s fiscal officer, and Thomas Infante, the board’s lawyer.

Last week, the Mahoning County commissioners unanimously declared their intention to designate the county’s Department of Job and Family Services as the county’s public children-services agency, but they did not take final action on the merger of the child-welfare agency with JFS or set a date for the merger.

The current 13-member children-services governing board likely would be replaced with a five-member advisory board, according to Carol Rimedio- Righetti, chairwoman of the county commissioners.

“We continue to try to stabilize things until we get a direction for governance of the agency. I’m pretty confident that that decision is going to come fairly quickly,” said Dave Arnold, CSB interim executive director.

“Our financial situation is not very good in that we’re spending a good deal more money than we’re bringing in,” Arnold told the board Tuesday.

The agency suffered a $1.2 million deficit in 2012 and is expected to have the same or a larger deficit this year, with substantial spending cuts required in 2014, Arnold said when he took office in January. The agency spends between $15 million and $16 million a year.

Because of the deficit, the agency’s carryover has dwindled to about $3 million, he said.

The resignations will burden the agency with some large severance packages, but the agency expects to achieve cost savings by not replacing some of the departing personnel or replacing them with lower-paid personnel, Arnold said Tuesday.

The board adjourned to executive session on legal matters with county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains and two assistant prosecutors, to be followed by a discussion by its search committee of five executive-director candidates, who responded to pre-interview questionnaires.


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