Allegan County Community Mental Health set to cut 28 jobs

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Budget cuts for Allegan County Community Mental Health Services intended to be spread throughout the year are now expected to sting even sooner.

By the end of January, the agency expects to reduce its staff by approximately 28 of its 127 full-time administrative and program staff positions.

Executive director Mark Witte said the cuts were part of $5 million in cuts; its total budget is dropping to a projected $23.4 million. The forthcoming layoffs are on top of the 15 full-time staff cut last year.

Witte said, “We have already made deep reductions to our staffing and are continuing to concentrate on assuring that the services we provide are accurately targeted to the needs of people we serve. However, a significant financial gap remains that can only be met by further staff reductions.”

Allegan County CMH serves between 1,500 and 2,000 clients annually.

 

Changes

Caseloads for CMH employees are expected to increase. Exactly how much depended on the program.

“Some of our employees are not as fully utilized as they could be,” he said. “There are a lot of different factors, but, yes, the cases will be redistributed. A rough idea of the increase might mean those with around 50 cases now may end up with 80.

Most staff layoffs will be effective Jan. 12; others will continue through the end of the month to allow for appropriate notification to clients of the affected programs.

Witte said CMH funding has dropped indirectly due to the Healthy Michigan program, an expansion of Medicaid. Many clients, Witte said, have switched their enrollment to Healthy Michigan which results in far less funding going CMH's way.

Allegan County CMH chair Mark DeYoung said Lansing should enact some kind of supplemental legislation and pay back some of the money he feels CMH is owed.

“I serve on the LRE, too. We’ve got a multi-million dollar deficit there,” DeYoung said. “As a region, we’ve been talking to senators and representatives and hammering it home; we’ve got to get them to figure out we need some of that money back. Without it, there’s not a lot of hope going forward.”

State Representative Mary Whiteford, who has made mental health care one of her focuses, said she understands the problem.

She said, “I’m staying on top of this to make sure our counties are made whole. I’m meeting with DHHS this week and next.”

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.

This is an abbreviated story; read the full version in the Jan. 11, 2018, issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to the e-edition.

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