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County to hire 41 workers to fill social services needs

Alliance Worknet receives job training grant

POSTED November 1, 2011 10:27 p.m.

If there’s any hire Stanislaus County would rather not make, it’s this one.

The embattled county will hire 41 new employees in the Community Services Agency to address surging demand for social services, supervisors decided Tuesday as part of a quarterly budget review.

“It is becoming a harsh reality in Stanislaus County that the day-to-day life of many citizens is becoming more and more challenged by the poor economy at this time,” said Stanislaus County CEO Rick Robinson.

StanWORKs public assistance programs have experienced “substantial growth” in recent years, Robinson said. The county’s CalFresh program – previously known as the food stamp program – has seen a 72 percent increase in users in the past four years.

The new hires will be funded by $3.4 million in additional state funding to address the need.

The budget update brought other good news, as Alliance Worknet will receive $1.2 million from the Department of Labor to train dislocated workers. But the county still faces significant financial challenges in areas close to home.

“While there's growth in some areas, that growth is primarily in areas funded by state and federal revenues,” said County Chief Operations Officer Patty Hill Thomas.

The county still has $5.6 million in identified costs which are currently not budgeted for – up from $4.2 in the adopted 2011-2012 budget. Those costs come from increased demand for foster care, general assistance grants, and in-home supportive services, which cannot be funded with the $3.4 million to be used to hire new employees.

Labor issues remain, with only half of labor groups currently agreeing to a 6 percent permanent pay cut, designed to replace a current 5 percent salary deduction scheduled to expire June 30, 2012. Two of 12 unions have also rejected a new health insurance agreement.

And as part of the budget, one assistant in the Board of Supervisors department will be laid off, or reassigned to a new post.

The picture doesn’t get any rosier looking forward, with uncertain tax revenues for the current year and significant shortfalls projected in 2013.

“We are still in a very difficult budget situation, with dramatic declines in local revenue, a very precarious state situation, and a continued demand for county services,” Thomas said.

The complete budget update is available online at StanCounty.com.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

 

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