Cuts + “Savings” = Millions Lost in Reimbursements

Drastic job cuts to the Department of Social Services (“Social Services”) in next year’s budget lack substantial savings.

“It appears the Collins administration is more concerned with showing cuts on paper than actually providing tangible savings for County taxpayers,” said Poloncarz. “Eliminating 228 positions in Social Services—a $7.8 million reduction in salary—seems like a substantial savings on its face. However, because each of those positions receives Federal and State share funds, in reality, you’re only saving a little while throwing millions more in reimbursement funding away. Cutting a lot in order to only save a little just doesn’t make financial sense.”

The FY 12 Erie County (“County”) Proposed Budget eliminates 228 positions within Social Services. According to SAP records (the County’s accounting tool), every single one of the deleted positions are reimbursed by Federal and State share funding, with the County contributing, on average, 25 percent towards salaries and fringe benefits. Additionally, Poloncarz discovered that 63 of the deleted positions actually receive 100 percent reimbursement from the State and Federal Governments.

According to the Proposed Budget, the 228 position deletions cut more than $7.8 million in salaries. However, when taking reimbursements into account, the County only saves approximately $1.9 million while losing more than $5.9 million in Federal and State share funding.

Also included in these cuts are the deletions of 12 of the 22 New York State Section 55-a positions within Social Services. These positions are reserved for persons with disabilities.

Poloncarz added, “While employed, they were not only providing a services to Erie County residents, but also paying taxes and contributing to their health care costs. However, after their jobs are cut, it will be even more difficult for them to find another job and the sad truth is that many will likely end up on disability or another form of public assistance. This is yet another example of what can be called Chris Collins’ ‘work to welfare’ program.”

Recently, the Comptroller issued his office’s comprehensive review of the Fiscal Year 2012 Proposed Erie County Budget (“FY 12 Proposed Budget”) and 2012-2015 Four Year Financial Plan (“Four Year Plan”), which noted several structural deficiencies that could lead to sever budget gaps for this and future years.