More cuts for Hamilton County JFS - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

More cuts for Hamilton County JFS

By Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Hamilton County commissioners have now officially voted to cut the county's budget by another $6 million.

The move comes in light of declining tax revenues, down anywhere from 12 to 14 percent this summer.

County leaders say it will now be up to individual departments to cut excesses, explore furloughs, and possibly layoffs.

"Furloughs are not a gold bullet, and we do have the option to do that now after state law changed, but it doesn't generate the kind of savings we need to make these numbers work, so I think we're going to have another round of layoff's - I think," said Commissioner Greg Hartmann.

Almost $2 million of those cuts could come from the Sheriff's department, but more cuts are also coming to the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services.

JFS has already shed more than $30 million from its operating budget and cut 380 employees.

But as the need for help grows, the money needed to provide it shrinks, which is a problem county officials say is very concerning and not fixable.

"Everyday I'm filling out applications and calling back on my applications, and they say they will call me back, but it's hard. I need to find a job," said Hamilton County resident Lauren Cain.

Cain is like so many Tri-state residents who are supporting a family, trying to find a job and relying on the services of Hamilton County's Department of Job and Family Services.

"We have over 100,000 people in Hamilton County on food stamps. That is an all time high for us," said Moira Weir, director of Hamilton County JFS. "Whether it's food stamps, Medicaid, cash assistance, child care vouchers, they're all increasing because the need of the community is increasing."

"It's packed. It's packed up on the fourth floor where I go. It's mass people," said Cain.

"I've been in there a couple of times and had to wait three and four hours or I haven't even got seen," said another resident, Tina Bibart.

Officials say a new population of people is walking through these doors every day.

"35 percent of the people that we are seeing today for food stamps, cash, medical have never been known to us," said Weir.

Weir says even with this growing need comes a harsh reality. Another 20 percent of her department's budget maybe on the chopping block, thanks to even more federal and state budget cuts.

"From 2007 til today we are anticipating a 47 to 52 percent in allocation," she said.

Weir says fewer employees will now struggle even more to keep up with this demand of serving clients.

"People will have to definitely wait longer," said Weir. "We used to be able to process an application in 10 days, now we're at 30 days and we're pushing to make that."

This department also handles protection services for adults and children, plus child support enforcement.

County officials say child safety and protection will not be affected by this lack of money. They say that issue is their number one priority and will continue to be.

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