Created on Saturday, 23 February 2013 Written by JOEL E. MAST
Attrition and reassigning employees has not done enough to balance the Logan County Child Support Enforcement Agency’s budget so the Logan County Commissioners acted Thursday to cut six more positions .
One of the positions is currently vacant. Five employees will be laid off in two weeks.
Three of those will have a chance to take positions within Logan County Job and Family Services which oversees CSEA, public assistance programs and work force development.
Director Susan Bailey-Evans said the CSEA has consistently exceeded its funding resources for several years.
CLICK HERE to view documents related to the CSEA layoffs provided by Ms. Baily-Evans and the Logan County Commission.
Resources, which come from case management fees and state funding, have been flat but stable.
The only option is to further reduce expenses and that forced the layoffs.
“These are some of the most difficult decisions we have to make,” said Commissioner Dustin Wickersham.
Ms. Bailey-Evans concurred, adding JFS tried to make as many changes as possible in the past nine months to minimize the losses.
The CSEA was moved into the JFS structure in 2007 with the hope of saving on administrative costs. However, CSEA employees received raises of between 4 and 18 percent to match JFS employees.
Both maintained separate offices until last year when the CSEA moved into the JFS building at 211 E. Columbus Ave.
Financial problems with the CSEA first came to light in November 2011, when then JFS Director Dan Willoby told the commissioners there was need to cut the CSEA staff.
When the CSEA merged with the JFS, it had $800,000 reserves. But it was gone by 2011, used up for covering administration, utilities, payroll and building maintenance services.
Mr. Willoby resigned in January 2012 and Ms. Bailey-Evans was hired by the spring to lead the department. She also oversees the Champaign County JFS.
She was saddled with an agreement to settle a $600,000 debt from a federal program.
Specifically, over several years in the 2000s, the local department was receiving more money than it was actually spending to administer federal programs. But when the time came to settle up at the end of the year, the agency continued to ask for more.
The overpayments kept building up until 2009, when a new accounting system was put into place that forced local agencies to settle their balances with the federal government, ODJFS spokesman Benjamin Johnson reported in an email to the Examiner.
When the final tally came in, Logan County owed $603,832.69. A deal was struck in which the county would forego $15,000 quarterly, or $60,000 per year, in federal payments the local JFS would normally receive until the debt is settled.
The county should be clear of the debt by the end of this decade.
Ms. Bailey-Evans also found the local JFS did not seek enough reimbursements for running another state and federally funded program from 2007 to early 2012. Instead of submitting 100 percent of the reimbursable costs to receive 66 percent, the local agency was submitting just 66 percent of its costs for the program.
She has recovered $110,000 of missed reimbursements under a federal law that permits resubmittals for the previous 24 months. Still, the county lost $150,000 in legitimate reimbursements.
Since 2012, the county has cut expenses for JFS by $456,469. The layoffs will save another $263,617.
The CSEA started 2012 with 15 employees. There will be an administrative lawyer/supervisor, an investigator and four clerical case specialists after the layoffs.
Staff Writer Reuben Mees contributed to this report.