Agencies avoiding layoffs
JOHNSTOWN – Area officials caring for the developmentally disabled are gathering information on how state budget cuts announced in March may affect their agencies.
The new state budget cut $90 million in aid statewide for programs that help the disabled through the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.
Lexington Center in Fulton County and Liberty Enterprises in Montgomery County – the area chapters of the NYSARC that supports people with disabilities – are affected by the reductions.
Lexington Executive Director Shaloni Winston estimated the cuts for her Gloversville-based agency at $3.7 million. She said her ARC had enacted a hiring freeze for non-direct support positions and was studying all aspects of its operation. She said 75 percent of Lexington’s budget is for personnel services.
“We haven’t laid off anybody,” Winston said, adding Lexington is “not hiring as much.”
Lexington is Fulton County’s biggest employer, with 1,600 employees serving 800 to 900 people.
She said Lexington is “adjusting” hours of employees, such as those assigned to work at group homes. She said Lexington is “shifting the use of others” to fill vacancies.
Winston said cuts to OPWDD eventually ended up being 4.5 percent. She said OPWDD is trying to make the best of the reduced funding.
“They’re trying to avoid any kind of impact on the delivery of services,” Winston said. “They’re trying to do things more efficiently.”
She cautioned this is “one set of cuts.” Other cuts may be coming, she said.
“We will still have to prepare for the future,” Winston said.
Liberty spokeswoman Barb Wool said her agency, which employs 760 people, hasn’t had to lay off anyone as a result of the funding cuts.
The effect on Liberty may be about $1.5 million, but that’s not certain, she said.
“That has not been fully realized,” Wool said. “It’s kind of a hypothetical thing.”
She said it’s possible the state Legislature may look at restoring some cuts.
Wally Hart, Lexington’s division director for business and community development, said some of Lexington’s clients might not be able to go on outings in the community if staff reductions occur.
He said the administration has met locally with the center’s auditors and is meeting with OPWDD to get a better sense of the financial situation.
“Every week, Shaloni has been attending meetings in Albany,” Hart said. “By July 1, we may know more.”
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.