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Cuts would hurt homeless, indigent
by Joshua H. Silavent
Apr 04, 2011 | 3167 views | 2 2 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Dan McGee
Social Services director Kevin Schiller gave a overview of his department's finances during a special departmental budget presentation before the Washoe County Commission,
Tribune/Dan McGee Social Services director Kevin Schiller gave a overview of his department's finances during a special departmental budget presentation before the Washoe County Commission,
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RENO — There is a troubling irony to the necessity of cutting funds for social welfare programs in Washoe County, across Nevada and throughout the United States to close deficit holes: The larger the budget reduction, the greater the demand for services.

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.
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leslie89441
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April 05, 2011
The solution seems pretty simple: The room tax should go directly into our economy rather than going to fund the RSVCA's $33 million budget.

The RSCVA is just another example of corporate welfare, and it should be shut down immediately. If casinos and other industry want to pay groups to visit the Reno area, then they should be footing the bill.

Our government leaders need to do some serious brainstorming about Nevada's future. We have limited water resources and land sitting on earthquake fault lines, so we can't keep bringing in new business and people in order to sustain reckless government spending.

Nevada should immediately switch government employees to 401 K programs with diverse investment tools (including investing in safe CDs and riskier but potentially more profitable individual stocks).

By switching to 401 K programs, Nevada's state and local governments will be able to reduce matching to zero during economic downturns. This practice worked well for corporations during the recent economic downturn. Companies with 401 Ks were able to cut costs and reduce debt, whereas companies with pension plans have heavily indebted balance sheets and at some point in the near future will have to negotiate deep cuts in employee pensions or file for Chapter 11.

If the government employees' unions won't negotiate deep cuts in pensions and agree to switch to 401 Ks, then Nevada's leaders must create laws that will allow state and local governments to default on current and future pensions. Pensions and benefits for retired government workers are nothing more than expensive Ponzi schemes strangling Nevada's economic future until our state and its cities are bankrupt.

I believe the reckless and unsustainable pension funds and benefits were implemented by local and state leaders who directly or indirectly benefitted by their reckless spending and negotiations with government employee unions. I believe that, if Nevada's attorney general filed a lawsuit on behalf of Nevada's taxpayers, we would win the ability to slash the cost of existing pensions and benefits and phase future pensions into 401 Ks.

In addition, it's absurd that we're paying government employees severance packages. Nevada is an at-will employment state, so non-government workers do not receive severance packages when being laid off.

These are desperate times. And it's time that our leaders are proactive rather than reactive in determining Nevada's destiny.
dbb184
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April 05, 2011
Lack of follow up on reported Fraud of the system by Welfare Individuals, Drug and Alcohol Testing should be made mandatory. Anyone on Welfare, Food Stamps and all other programs need to report changes in income, and most do not. I knew of a couple that abused this system, still do to this day, have reported them, with no results. Collected monies on an inheritance, used it for booze, cigs, pot, and did not mention a word to Welfare, in the amount of $50,000. Thats more then I make an a year. Not saying this would be an easy fix, but its a start.
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