Aging, mental health programs reduced

NORWICH – A look back over the past two years or so shows staff reductions in Chenango County’s programs and services for the mentally ill and senior citizens.

The Community Mental Hygiene Services department has been reduced by 22 percent, or 16 positions, since 2010. Most are due to vacancies left unfilled and state regulatory changes and reimbursement reductions, despite a demand for services. The drafted 2013 budget would cut a position from the alcohol and drug services unit.

Director Ruth Roberts said while a leaner staff is working smarter and more efficiently, the department is at the point where it cannot sustain any additional cuts without jeopardizing the quality and quantity of services.

“We’ve had to answer to the county’s request to have zero local share,” she said. “To meet salary increases and cover the cost of fringe benefits that are at about 50 percent now, the only way to do that is to cut expenses and increase revenues. Very challenging times, indeed.”

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