Warren County won't be getting funds from a state human services block grant.
Mary Kushner, director of Warren-Forest Human Services, told Warren County Commissioners during their Monday afternoon work session that her department is still required to submit a plan to the state, despite the fact it won't get funding. The deadline for submission is Oct. 31.
Commissioner John Bortz said the grant allows for portability of funds. Although Warren County was not among the 20 approved in the first wave, the state plans to add another 10 counties.
Right now, Kushner said, adding counties is only a proposal. No matter its status, each county is required to submit a report.
Commissioner John Eggleston asked how many employee hours would be required for the report. Kushner said the report is supposed to be a snapshot of the department.
"I don't understand what's involved," Eggleston said. "Will it be two work days, 10 work days, five hours, 15 hours or what?"
According to Kushner, she could not predict the length of time required. Even after submission, there would likely be corrections they would need to make.
Paperwork from department reports are normally thick. This time, Kushner said, it will include an assessment and plan with input from providers and stakeholders.
To compile the report, Bortz said, the office could take what it had been doing to apply for the block grant and funnel it into what the state wants to see. There will be a general description and narrative, Kushner said, which tells who they serve and how much it costs.
Since the department serves both Warren and Forest counties, Kushner said the report would have to reflect that. It will include the joint services at the counties.
"At first, it was up to all the counties whether they wanted to apply or not," Commissioner Chairman Stephen Vanco said.
Now, Bortz noted, they have to do it anyway. This is in addition to state funding cuts, Kushner said, which the department has to deal with while serving as many people as it did before.
Those cuts came to 10 percent. They have a real effect on the ability of the county to serve people, Bortz said, even though the departments were expected to find more efficient ways to operate.
People were previously able to get help with natural gas bills and rent payments. With the cuts, Kushner said, that's no longer an option.
Even if human services only provided $100, Kushner said, the Salvation Army could match that assistance. Now matches are drying up, Eggleston said, as organizations like the Salvation Army funneled government funds which have been cut while private donations are also decreasing.
With its block grant application, Vanco said the county will have a head start on filing the report. Other counties will be starting from scratch.
"We're being asked to give this stuff for no good reason," Eggleston said. "It's ridiculous."
Additional time spent on the report will take away from a more pressing issue, Eggleston said, which is to make the system work now.
The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the plan prior to their next meeting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 in the Jackson Courtroom of the Warren County Courthouse.