The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

January 4, 2010

Layoffs begin for health department

DANVILLE — The first round of cuts for the Vermilion County Health Department came Monday as the county tries to work around the money its owed by the state.

The health department announced three state grant-funded programs — Healthy Families Illinois, All Our Kids Childhood Network and Targeted Intensive Prenatal Case Management — would all cease operations as of Jan. 31. With the eliminations, 12 positions were cut from the department.

Administrator Steve Laker, speaking before the Vermilion County Board finance committee meeting Monday night, said the program and position cuts eliminate $423,792 in costs from the health department budget, including $19,000 in payroll.

The positions cut included six registered nurses, five support workers and a clerical position, decreasing the health department staff to 60.

All of the affected parties were notified of the decisions on Monday. Laker sent a letter to the Illinois Department of Human Services on Dec. 31 announcing the program cuts, which is required by contract with the state.

Laker called the decision proactive and indicated all three programs were perceived to be “on the bubble” for funding from the state in the next fiscal year. Each of the programs had existed in Vermilion County for at least a decade.

“I think these other grants will survive. I think those programs will need to continue,” he said.

The end of November brought with it a dangerous money crisis for the health department as officials waited for around $800,000 owed to the health department by the state of Illinois. Last month, the department received $517,000 from Illinois Comptrollers Office — about 65 percent of the amount owed.

More than 80 percent of the health department’s budget consists of grant funding, with the majority — a little more than 55 percent — coming from the state. The rest are federal grants.

Laker had been in the process of doing detailed financial impact analysis that reflects the elimination of certain grant pro-grams, looking at the excess costs, savings and overall impact.

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