2013-06-13 / Local & State

Budget Cuts To Affect CareerLink

Public hearing held on Human Services Block Grant funding
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

The Fulton County commissioners were apprised Tuesday of cuts being proposed by the Huntingdon County CareerLink, which oversees an office and services here, in light of a significant funding loss.

Sitting down with Huntingdon County CareerLink Director Terry Sheffield and Workforce Investment Board program supervisor Barbara Covert on June 11, commissioners Rodney McCray, Irvin Dasher and Craig Cutchall learned Huntingdon and Fulton counties have suffered an $89,000 loss in funding from the Southern Alleghenies Workforce Investment Board.

Sheffield stated as a result of these funding cuts linked to sequestration, changes will have to be made both here and in neighboring Huntingdon County. “We’re going to have to do a little finagling to survive,” said Sheffield. “We don’t have much of a choice... . We don’t have the money to operate.”

Covert noted traffic flow in county has been declining in recent years. Approximately 1,100 county residents requiring summer employment as well as employment and training services are assisted here.

She further related their hope is to keep the two offices functioning over the summers months and reevaluate the situation this fall. “Our goal and vision is to keep a presence in Fulton County,” Covert stated.

The duo suggested a lowering of rent by the commissioners in connection with reducing the amount of office space utilized here in the former Shelly & Witter building on West Market Street. In Huntingdon County, a 25 percent reduction in office rental was approved by their landlord.

“We’re trying to be creative and smart with what we have,” Covert concluded.

The commissioners agreed to consider the proposal but no formal action was taken.

In other matters Tuesday, a public hearing was held to discuss the application for Human Services Block Grant (HSBG) funding for the 2013-14 fiscal year. County human services administrator Jean Snyder headed the meeting, which included a proposed breakdown of $695,666 in funding between multiple services including Mental Health (MH), Intellectual Disabilities (ID), Child Welfare Services, Drug and Alcohol (D&A), Homeless Assistance, Area Agency on Aging, Fulton County Family Partnership, Human Services Development Fund and administration

Snyder said, in its second year, HSBG is being level-funded. For the 2013-14 fiscal year, requests totalling $778,384 were made.

One of the biggest successes or pluses for HSBG has been learning how much money Fulton County actually receives for MH, ID and D&A, said Snyder, who reminded those on hand of the existing service joinder with Franklin County. Meanwhile, challenges include that it remains a question as to how to best track whether Fulton County is receiving the appropriate level of MH, ID and D&A services in comparison to the level of funding.

Others in attendance at the public hearing were Fulton County Center for Families Executive Director Elen Ott and Fulton County Partnership Executive Director Julia Dovey.

A contract was penned with CES Engineering to prepare construction documents, acquire the necessary permits and perform construction administration for the demolition of the Annex 1 building.

Sheriff Keith Stains sat down with the commissioners pertinent to his office’s budget. According to reports, at the current rate of expenditures on deputy hours, the sheriff’s office will be overbudget.

Stains informed the commissioners he is taking a proactive approach to the issue and asked for consideration for an increase in hours allotted to part- time deputies. The issue would require discussion by the Salary Board, which is set to convene on June 19.

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas court administrator Mark Singer spoke with the commissioners via conference call regarding how the county would ensure an impartial selection of jurors in the event a resolution is adopted abolishing the position of jury commissioner.

Solicitor Stanley Kerlin updated the commissioners on recent correspondence with the Department of Labor and Industry as it pertains to contracted work to have been done on the courthouse roof. Kerlin also presented requests to attend two conferences, which were granted.

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