DHS memo outlines possible job cuts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

DHS memo outlines possible job cuts

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DES MOINES (KWWL) -- A memo sent from outgoing Department of Human Services Director Charlie Krogmeier to DHS employees outlined cuts that may need to be made in the wake of budget cuts.

Krogmeier says cuts may need to be made at institutions including those in Independence, Eldora and Toledo because the size of the budget reduction exceeded their estimates.

The letter was also sent to Chuck Palmer who will become the DHS Director on Friday when Governor Branstad is sworn into office.

Below is Krogmeier's letter:

All DHS Staff:

Later today I'll be briefing the Human Service Council on a difficult budget situation for the current fiscal year. It contains sobering information, and I wanted you to be first to know.

At issue: How to manage provisions of a law approved by the Iowa Legislature last spring that deletes $27.3 million from the operating budgets of DHS. This is part of the legislatively mandated reduction of $83.7 million from operations budgets across all agencies. It is a reduction of approximately 9 percent. These include "estimated" savings from the SERIP program and other strategies adopted by the legislature and the governor this past year in SF 2088 and Executive Order 20.

We were informed last week by the Department of Management about our exact share of the cut and the share for each of the operating budgets within DHS. We have been anticipating a reduction and have been managing to live within what we knew would be fewer resources. The general strategy has been to delay filling approved positions, as many of you with growing caseloads can painfully attest.

The size of the DHS reduction exceeded our estimates. Finding these additional savings in already-reduced budgets is all the more challenging with just five months remaining in the fiscal year. But the money has already been removed from our budget and we are required to take additional action.

The impacts are most severe at the DHS institutions and will involve reductions in force and bed reductions. The cuts in field offices, child support, central office and most program operations can be managed this year without further reductions in force or drastic program changes. However, as these reductions also continue into SFY 12, we will be carefully considering options for next year.

I'll be explaining the impact to the Council today and will present an option. They are both painful, and both leave the state with shortages of needed services. They both assure that all remaining programs have enough staff and support to provide service and to meet licensing criteria.

Option A is to make cuts to institutions according to their share of budget shortfalls as ordered by DOM. Here are the impacts:

· At Cherokee, cut 12 of the current 25 adult psychiatric beds. No change to the total of 12 beds for adolescents and children. About 29 positions may be eliminated.

· At Clarinda, immediately halt admissions to the 30-bed gero-psychiatric unit and phase it out as soon as possible. No change to the 20 adult psych beds. About 28.7 positions may be eliminated.

· At Mount Pleasant, no change to operational bed capacity. No positions would be eliminated.

· At Independence, cut 10 of the 40 adult psych beds, reduce 25 beds for children down to 10, and eliminate the 30-bed psychiatric medical institution for children. About 62 positions may be eliminated.

· At Toledo, eliminate the 20-bed unit for CINA boys and cut 15 of the beds for girls, leaving a total of 42 combined beds for CINA girls and delinquent girls. About 16 positions may be eliminated.

· At Eldora, reduce capacity by 17, bringing it down to 150. No positions would be eliminated.

Department-wide, approximately 188 full-time positions would be considered for elimination, of which 136 are currently filled. Many more will be held vacant.

As an alternative, I am considering a 'Plan B" that would phase out the substance abuse beds at Mt. Pleasant and the adult psychiatric beds at Clarinda. I would also shift some funds away from Mt. Pleasant, Woodward, and Glenwood to other facilities. These steps would allow for maintaining the gero-psych unit at Clarinda for the remainder of this year and reducing the impact at Toledo. Under this option, positions would be considered for elimination at Mt. Pleasant and we would not fill vacant slots at Woodward and Glenwood.

The advantage of Plan B is that patients in both programs targeted for elimination - the substance abuse treatment program and the adult psych unit - are usually there for only short periods, a month or two. If we immediately stopped taking new enrollments, we could shut down these operations sooner than some of the steps necessary under Plan A.

All of this is happening in a climate of uncertainty. We have a new governor, a new political makeup at the Statehouse, and of course, a new director. I have been consulting with Chuck Palmer about all of this. A final decision on which course we will follow needs to be made in the next few days in order for discussions with employee representatives to occur and for layoff plans and other steps to be taken.

As we have learned from past budget crises, this may not be the final resolution of all of these impacts. This is what I know at this time. The exact management of these reductions may very well change before it is all implemented.

Finally, it's unfortunate that my tenure comes to a close with news like this. I do want you to know that I have gained overwhelming respect for what you do, and I have enjoyed the journey.

I'll have a final word later in the week.

Sincerely,

Charlie

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