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County lays off health services workers
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The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors cut nine more positions from the county payroll on Tuesday, an all-too common occurrence for the money-starved county.

Staffing reductions have become so routine for Stanislaus County, in fact, that Tuesday’s cuts were originally listed under the consent calendar section of the supervisors’ agenda. That section is reserved for items considered so commonplace as to not warrant discussion, as supervisors approve a swath of initiatives with a single vote.

Stanislaus County CEO Rick Robinson apologized to the supervisors and affected employees for his decision to list the staffing cuts on the consent calendar.

“When we are talking about staffing reductions, we are talking about human beings,” Robinson said.  “... We are becoming a little bit insensitive to the reductions in force we are doing because we have done so many of them, but they do deserve a higher level of dignity.”

“I don’t know if we’re becoming insensitive to this, or just numb to it,” Supervisor Bill O’Brien said, citing the more than 1,000 positions cut from the county over the past five years.

Tuesday’s cuts came from the Health Services Agency Public Health division. The division, with a $21 million operating budget, forecasts a $2 million budget shortfall primarily due to reduced state funding.

Seven filled positions – a Community Health Worker II, four Community Health Worker IIIs, a Health Educator and a Staff Services Coordinator – will be eliminated from the division effective July 15. A further two vacant positions – a Senior Custodian and a Public Health Nurse III – will be cut as well.

The staffing reductions are expected to save $670,000. Other savings will be generated by implementing efficiency initiatives, county staff said.

Additional HSA expenditure reductions, including elimination of Cal Learn and the Community Challenge Grant program, which have both recently had funding eliminated by the state, will be included in the county’s proposed 2011-2012 budget.

That budget is likely to include additional layoffs, O’Brien said, as the county strives to live within its shrinking means, with declining state funding and flat tax revenues.

“I wish I could say it’s the last ones, but until we know what the State of California is going to do with our budget, unfortunately the outlook does not look too bright in the near future,” O’Brien said. “I guess the only light, and only hope we have, is that funding will come back at some point in time, and we are committed to rehire when those funds are available.”

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext .2005.