Multnomah County to lose $11 million in state funding, must refigure budget

From the Oregonian, August 31, 2011

Jeff Cogen, Multnomah County Chair

Jeff Cogen, Multnomah County Chair

Nearly three months after passing its budget, Multnomah County must now figure out how to fill an $11 million hole passed down from the state.

County commissioners knew when they adopted the $412 million general fund budget in early June that they’d lose millions once the state Legislature passed its own. Commissioners put aside $4.8 million to minimize the loss and to ramp down programs that the county would have to eliminate once the extent of the cuts were known. But that won’t be enough.

The state cuts include:

    *$3.2 million to mental health crisis and adult services, would eliminate staffing for crisis call center and reduce emergency mental health services.

    *$1.2 million in Oregon Health Plan funding for those seeking mental health services.

    *$260,000 would reduce outpatient services for the severely mentally ill.

    *$1 million to Sheriff’s Office, would close the 59 jail beds and a program that lets some offenders serve jail time on weekends so they can keep their jobs.

    *$2.8 million to the Dept. of Community Justice, would eliminate eight probation officer positions and the nation’s second oldest drug court.

    *$300,000 in aging and disability services for adult protective services.

County Chairman Jeff Cogen said the cuts are devastating.

“These cuts are eviscerating our mental health crisis system.” he said. “It’s just wrong. No one should believe these cuts aren’t going to hurt.”

Joanne Fuller, the county’s chief operating officer, said the county may be able to access some of the $15 million in a health plan fund to close the budget gap but said she’s waiting on the county attorney to tell her how much the county can legally use.

Fuller will bring a plan before the board Sept. 8.

“We already took cuts in the budget when we started in June. We’re not going to probably be able to (mitigate) all of these,” she said.