Juvenile Welfare Board to decide program cuts
To save $1-million, the board recommends eliminating or trimming back 25 programs.
By ANNE LINDBERG
Published June 28, 2007
A committee of Pinellas County's Juvenile Welfare Board has recommended eliminating or reducing funding for 25 programs.
The changes would result in a $1-million budget savings and reallocation of $1.59-million. The cuts are being made to comply with the Legislature's mandate to reduce property taxes. The board is expected to make a decision at its meeting today.
If the changes are adopted and incorporated into the board's budget, scheduled for final adoption July 19, the agency's tax rate would decrease from 0.7963 mills to 0.7384 mills. The tax savings for a $150, 000 home with a $25, 000 homestead exemption would be $7.24.
Among the affected programs is Operation PAR's chemical abuse prevention puppet show. Juvenile Welfare Board funding would be cut by $153, 246 to $200, 000. The puppets, which are used in school presentations, would be retired and the remaining money would go to implementing a substance abuse treatment program.
The Resource Center for Women's program, Single Mothers Are Ready Today to Move Up, would be eliminated, enabling the board to save $165, 493. The program, which serves 628 children, probably would have been eliminated even had the property tax issue not arisen because it had failed to raise $500, 000 on its own, said Gay Lancaster, the board's executive director.
Also being eliminated is the Pinellas County Urban League's Comprehensive Family Services program. The $121, 311 will be given to another program in the Ridgecrest area of greater Largo.
Other programs are being combined to save money. For example, the Lealman Family Center was identified as a potential cut on early lists, but a decision to combine it with the Asian Family Center saved it. The Asian Family Center had been renting facilities.
"It is good news, " said Mike Quinlivan, executive director of the Lealman center. "It keeps us funded and it gives the Asian center a permanent place."
The decision makes sense, Quinlivan said, because the Asian population in the area has grown.
Although the family center and other agencies are relieved, their reprieve may be short-lived, Lancaster said. Voters are expected to decide in January whether cuts should go deeper.
"These cuts are modest compared to what could happen in January, " Lancaster said. "The worst is yet to come."
Under one scenario, she said, the Juvenile Welfare Board could lose $15-million to $19-million in ad valorem tax revenue.
Property taxes account for more than 93 percent of the agency's $62-million annual budget. The board's staff consists of 60 positions, five of which are vacant and have been frozen.
[Last modified June 27, 2007, 20:36:45]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]