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Fairfax Board Approves Plan to Mend Budget Gap in Human Services

The plan would help Community Services Board, which is facing budget shortfalls in 2012 and 2013.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a provisional plan Tuesday to help the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board close some of its budget gap. Without the help, it would leave some residents without crucial social services.

The Community Services Board (CSB) is facing an $8 million shortfall in its $150 million 2012 budget and a projected $9.4 million shortfall in 2013.

After a , the board of supervisors found $4 million for 2012 and set aside a reserve of $4.2 million for 2013.

On Tuesday, the board of supervisors voted to approve a process of helping the board close the gaps while cutting as little as possible, but few of the supervisors were pleased with the situation.

“It’s really mush,” said Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross. “I have serious issues with CSB governance, I have serious issues with CSB’s finances. I have rarely, if ever, seen the board so united in its unhappiness about an agency.”

The budget help hinges on public hearings and a review of the CSB’s social services. The board of supervisors hopes to cut costs without cutting services.

The CSB has identified potential cuts, including closing mental health facilities, reducing staff and shutting down day programs for kids.

Some residents are already feeling the bite of the shortfalls. The Infant & Toddler Connection program, which provides early intervention services for small children with developmental disabilities, has been forced to put children in need on a waiting list.

It’s the first time the CSB has been forced to resort to putting families on a waiting list, and the first time kids have had to wait for services that could help them later in life.

The CSB has also asked the board to help fund Employment and Day Services for 19 disabled graduates of the Fairfax County Public School System. But that leaves more than 40 disabled graduates this year who will have to wait until more money is found.

CSB Director George Braunstein said the funding woes were due in part to reduced support from the state and federal government, and a lack of insurance reimbursements.

Despite its displeasure, the board approved the plan because of fear the situation could deteriorate for those in need, without immediate action.

“We have to support this,” Gross said. “I would support this because not supporting this leaves us in limbo, and it leaves the entire [CSB] in limbo, not able to move forward on anything.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the issue June 4.

Theresa Liseux May 24, 2012 at 02:54 PM
One of the supervisors pointed out that this budget shortfall shouldn't have been a surprise, because the deficits were tolerated in the past with no plan developed to address them. Sounds like a major management error. Community fallout results because of CSB's failure to prudently oversee their budget, particularly if service & staff cuts ensue. Not only are people who need services denied them, but staff lose jobs; other sectors of the community, such as schools, churches, other service organizations, must then accommodate the problems resulting from service cuts. I hope the Board of Supervisors oversees an effort to thoroughly review agency financial & service operations, & involves experts to develop an effective plan to provide services. I hope the proposed public hearings do not supersede a much needed analysis to identify the CSB's management problems. It is not in the best interest of the community should changes be determined based on political clout and service popularity. Resolving the agency's structural problems in a political manner would only exacerbate problems. The Board must hear community priorities for services, but that must be balanced by thoroughly reviewing the agency's management & operations. The community would benefit from a transparent process assessing what's gone wrong in the CSB & a deliberate, sober effort to implement effective strategies to improve their financial and service structures.
Mary Stachyra Lopez May 24, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Theresa. Would anyone else like to chime in? Looks like the poll is about tied right now. I know that this has been an issue on a lot of people's minds for some time now.

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