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Budget cuts hit close to home

Ryan Graff
Special to the Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Garfield County Department of Social Services is feeling the effects of cutbacks in state funding.

“We’re in a crisis,” said Garfield County Commission Chairman John Martin.

“Over the last two years there has been a huge amount of budget cuts at the state level,” said Lynn Renick, director of Garfield County Social Services.



Renick presented a mid-year report for the fiscal year of July 1, 2003, to June 30, 2004, to the county commissioners on Tuesday.

Renick said while the population and social services needs of Garfield County have continued to grow, the funding the state provides has remained the same, or in some cases, been cut back.



One example of the social services needs in Garfield County is evident in the child services department.

In January, Social Services had 93 out-of-home placements for children in Garfield County. A normal amount of out-of-home placements would have been 75, said Renick.

Social Services is projecting that it will go beyond its allocated funding by the end of this fiscal year, June 30, in its residential treatment center, child welfare, and child care programs, according to the report.

Renick cautiously said the department might go over its allocated funds by $400,000.

According to the report’s projections, however, the department looks as if it could go over by as much as $750,000.

But the department’s spending rate could go down by the end of the year, and funds could be transferred from different departments, said Renick.

Social Services was in a similar position last year, but was able to cut back on some expenses.

“We pulled several rabbits out of our hats last year,” Renick told the commissioners.

This year Social Services is again trying to save money.

“You’re going to have to be a scrooge,” said Martin.

“There will be a lot of counties that are in the same position we’re in,” said Commissioner Tresi Houpt.

In other business Tuesday, the county commissioners:

– Heard a report on the plan to merge Healthy Beginnings with Mountain Family Health Clinic.

Wanda Berryman, director of Healthy Beginnings, reported that the merger is on track and should happen on June 1.

– Heard a plan from Garfield Legal Services to merge with Roaring Fork Legal Services.

The board of both Garfield Legal Services and Roaring Fork Legal Services still have to vote on whether the merger will take place, said Cheryl Page, executive director of Garfield Legal Services.

The merger would give both offices a full-time lawyer. Currently, Garfield Legal Services relies on attorneys to provide their services on a volunteer basis. Garfield County lawyers volunteered more than $94,000 in legal services last year.

– Accepted semi-annual reports from the county treasurer and the county public trustee.

Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 534

rgraff@postindependent.com


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