Indeed, whenever the economy falters, calls for help grow.
It would seem that fiscal austerity comes with an untold price.
Kevin Schiller, director of Washoe County’s social services department, said he knows this harsh truth all too well, but he is trying to affix a tag to the hardship and keep costs as low as possible for those individuals dependent on health, residence and security assistance.
Schiller presented county commissioners with a 1.7 percent budget reduction plan for the 2011-12 fiscal year during department-wide hearings on Monday.
About $53,000 in county support for the Community Assistance Center has been slashed. Fewer resources for the area’s homeless population, much of which is relegated to a tent city near the heart of downtown Reno, will be available as a result.
Moreover, the city of Reno will be hampered with the additional burden of paying for operations that it already wants to outsource.
The center contains separate shelters for men, women and families plus a triage unit for mentally ill adults and an outreach office to support those living on the streets.
Meanwhile, the adult indigent fund for the next fiscal year is more than $900,000 short of current totals because of massive declines in property tax revenues, according to Schiller.
But revenue losses don’t stop there.
Stimulus funding has run dry to the tune of more than $1 million for the coming fiscal year.
State funding for child welfare reimbursements also will fall by more than $1 million if Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget takes effect.
The impact of the state budget on Washoe County has many officials worried that the current $33.5 million overall deficit could balloon by as much as $25 million.
But Monday’s budget hearings only dealt with $5 million in cuts needed across all departments. Scenarios addressing 10- and 25-percent cuts are in the works.
The social services department currently has a proposed total budget of more than $72 million for the next fiscal year, about $550,000 more than the current year largely because of an inflationary increase in administrative and children’s services costs.
Support for child protective services will remain largely unscathed, as a $10,000 transfer to the general fund will occur.
Commissioner Kitty Jung said it was important to limit cuts to children’s programs because residents said in a recent survey that these services were their single biggest funding priority.
Elsewhere, use of ending fund balances to cover program and resource deficiencies typically reserved for a “rainy day” situation will likely come into play
“As you all know, it’s pouring,” Schiller told commissioners.
Salary concessions and other restructuring, if enacted, will reduce the amount of ending fund balance monies needed to cover program shortfalls, Schiller added.
“We are truly looking at how we can create efficiencies within the department,” Schiller said.
Read about proposed cuts to Washoe County’s Senior Services Department in Wednesday’s edition of the Sparks Tribune.