Alcohol, drug abuse services better kept under county’s watch

NORWICH – Chenango County Mental Hygiene Services Director Ruth Roberts made the rounds in government committees last week advocating to keep alcohol and drug abuse services under the auspices of her department.

Town supervisors suggested during budgeting season last year that the counseling and treatment services program should be privatized as a way to save taxpayer dollars. Chenango County Alcohol & Drug Abuse Services are not mandated by the New York State Department of Health.

The local share to provide ADAS was $142,000 in 2010, including health care and retirement benefits for the 17-member staff. State and federal Medicaid reimbursements pick up the rest of the unit’s $1 million plus annual tab. Approximately 222 clients received services last year in about 900 visits with clinicians.

The Finance Committee, meeting last Thursday, concurred with a referral from Health & Human Services Committee that the service should be retained. Roberts provided data concluding that treatment was in high demand, that privatizing would not decrease the levy, and that the county’s law enforcement, jail, social services and educational institutions would be overburdened without the program.

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