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Published: Tuesday, 7/29/2008

11 workers trimmed at Job, Family Services

BY ALEX M. PARKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Eleven people have been laid off from the Lucas County Department of Job and Family Services.

Their positions which included supervisors and managers were eliminated last week after the department received a $1.3 million cut in its state funding for the current fiscal year, which began in July, county officials said.

The county commissioners voted to approve the layoffs during their meeting July 22. The employees last day will be Aug. 11.

The 11 positions include a program administrator and a contract supervisor as well as two administrative secretaries, an IT project analyst, an income maintenance supervisor, a personnel officer, a compliance specialist, a research and policy manager, and two trainers.

The annual salaries for the positions ranged from $30,035 to $68,881.

Shawn Reid, the department s assistant director, said the decision was made to cut management positions rather than those in the agency s bargaining unit so the layoffs would cause the least amount of disruption of services.

Tina Skeldon Wozniak, president of the commissioners, agreed.

This is not the time to cut staff for those who provide services to our citizens, she said.

It s the responsible thing to do, that these cuts needed to come out of the management side, and not the line staff who give service and meet the public each and every day.

Commissioner Pete Gerken recalled his own experience as an auto worker.

I ve been laid off, Mr. Gerken said. It s uncomfortable. We re sad about it, but we have to focus on our mission.

He said as federal dollars shrink, local governments are squeezed.

It s indicative of the funding that s being reduced nationwide. The national budget pushed itself through the state budget, which pushes itself to the local budget, Mr. Gerken said.

Commissioner Ben Konop also blamed the federal government s priorities.

It s commentary on the priorities coming out of the Bush Administration, coming out of Washington, that are not addressing the needs of Toledo, Mr. Konop said.

These are positions that help people get jobs, help people get very much needed social services, and we re having to lay people off.

In addition to the job cuts, Deb Ortiz-Flores, the department s director, in a letter sent to commissioners in June, outlined a plan to cut operating costs.

Ms. Ortiz-Flores said she would fill only critical vacancies among her bargaining unit employees, and would cut $168,000 in expenses, such as $30,000 in travel and training and $58,000 in information technology.

The department serves low-income residents through a variety of programs, including food stamps, cash assistance to needy families, and job programs.

Most of the agency s budget comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The money is funneled through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which distributes it to individual counties.

Allocations are based on a formula of each county s population, unemployment, and poverty levels.

A state spokesman did not have details about why Lucas County s funding was reduced.

According to Ms. Ortiz-Flores letter to the commissioners, the state reduced its funding for salaries and personnel from $131.2 million to $130 million.

Contact Alex M. Parker at: aparker@theblade.comor 419-724-6107.



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