The proposed $240 million, 6% across-the-board cut to nonprofit service providers, which is a part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed Executive Budget for FY2013-14, threatens to diminish the quality of critical services for the developmentally disabled and their families and cause job losses at upstate agencies.
Lexington Center and Liberty, two chapters of NYSARC which support people with disabilities and their families by providing clinical, medical, residential, day, recreation, vocational, job placement and other services, are among the nonprofit agencies across the state that are operating under the Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities and facing the millions of dollars in cuts, which may take effect on April 1st.
Wally Hart, Lexington's Division Director of Community & Business Development, said Lexington officials are analyzing the roughly $5 million cut to see how it will affect the agency.
"They're telling us on April 1 we're going to lose $5 million," Hart said. That's really devastating. We know that means we're going to have to look at the services we provide. There are people we support. We serve some of them 24 hours a day. They depend on us. Not having the money, not having $5 million to provide that care means we're going to have to look at staffing and what we provide for them."
According to its website, Lexington has 1,650 full- and part-time employees who support 1,060 adults and children with disabilities. As Fulton County's largest employer, the $5 milllion loss is expected to be felt by the entire community and will have a great effect on the local economy.
Lexington has a $70,000,000 operating budget, of which 99% is funded with federal, state and private funds. Cuomo's proposed cut comes after Lexington just completed a $4.5 million cut in December, which already resulted in a reduction in staff.
Hart said the agency always tries to absorb budget cuts by other means, such as traveling less when gas prices increase. But if these cuts go into effect on April 1st, there would be no way to avoid reducing staff, according to Hart.
"There's just no way we can cut without affecting staffing," he said. "If we affect staffing, it means they're not going to have money to spend in the county. It's going to affect the regional community as well."
The cut in Federal funding is the result of accusations that New York State had been submitting excessive claims for reimbursement for services provided at OPWDD’s Developmental Disabilities Centers. Although the 6% reduction is expected to save $120 million, Hart agrees with nonprofit service providers across the state that not-for-profit agencies should not have to bear this cost.
"We think it could be spread across all providers-- state and volunteer," he said. "And since it wasn't money spent on Medicaid funding for us-- it was spent on other Medicaid spending services-- we shouldn't have to pay it back ... It was other Medicaid services. We don't think we should pay anything back if we didn't do anything wrong."
According to the New York State ARC, the 6% cut could result in fewer services and prompt layoffs among some of the hundreds of private nonprofit groups that serve the disabled.