A Carbon County agency is looking for creative solutions to close a $400,000 gap in its 2012 budget.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted to approve the Carbon County Children and Youth Services needs based budget. The budget totals $4,026,006, which represents a $400,000 decrease from last year's budget. The cut is a result of funding that was cut from the upcoming state budget.
"The state has adopted a budget that cut us 10 percent and it eliminated $400,000 that we anticipated needing," Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, said. "The last couple of years, we were between $100,000 and $200,000 under budget so I guess we're hopeful that we can make up some of it."
He then introduced Sallianne Newton, administrator of Children and Youth, and asked her to explain some ways her department plans to close the financial gap.
Newton outlined various changes that will save significant amounts throughout the year, including altering programs, reviewing every child placement, getting children in and out of placement quicker, using home providers instead of foster care, having more permanent legal guardians, etc.
One of the biggest changes comes to the community service program that the agency handles, she said. Currently, the agency contracts PA Treatment and Healing and JusticeWorks to administer, supervise and transport the juveniles who are sentenced to do community service.
Now, Newton explained, the county will utilize the juvenile probation office and work with them to run the program at no cost to the county. This change will cut $20,000 a month in expenses.
Children and Youth employees will also now go out with the juvenile that must do community service. Before outside providers handled the supervision.
Newton said that if community service is available on Saturdays, like cleaning up high school football fields after Friday night games, an agency worker will go with the juvenile and supervise them.
"Instead of getting extra hours or pay, he would just not come in one day or a half day during the week," she said, "so it wouldn't cost anymore to the county."
O'Gurek thanked Newton and her team for their hard work to find ways to bridge the financial gap that the state has made.
"I appreciate you doing administratively what you need to do to make this work and that your staff members are willing to do changes in their work schedules," he said. "You can see as an agency, they are doing things creatively to try and live within the means of a budget that the state thought fit to cut by 10 percent."