Contra Costa County Officials Consider Options for Centers for People With Developmental Disabilities
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on June 29 will vote on a proposal to cut $1.6 million per year from the general fund budget by eliminating 60 jobs from the George Miller Centers, which are located in Concord and Richmond and annually provide services to 450 people with developmental disabilities and their families, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (DeFao, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/22). County supervisors last week discussed proposed funding cuts totaling $18.8 million for the county Health Services Department. Under department Director William Walker's fiscal year 2004-2005 budget proposal, 202 positions would be eliminated, only 42 of which are vacant currently. The budget proposal aims to address a $53 million budget deficit and would reduce funding for more than 80 health services.
Supervisors this month began looking for a new operator for the George Miller Centers in Richmond and Concord as part of their plan to reduce the health services budget. In May, the board gave 60 days' notice to the Department of Developmental Services regional centers program that the county would not renew its contract to provide services to people with developmental disabilities and their families. County supervisors intend for another party to pay the county's share and continue to operate the programs in existing buildings (California Healthline, 6/15). County Public Health Director Wendel Brunner said the county does not plan to "pull out" of the centers until another provider agrees to run them, a transition that could occur by the fall (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/22). The George Miller Centers receive about two-thirds of their funding through the state's regional center and the remainder comes from the county (California Healthline, 6/15). State contributions have "not kept up with rising costs," increasing the county's contribution to $1.6 million from $70,000 in less than 10 years, according to the Chronicle.
Brunner said, "It's very difficult and unpleasant to have to recommend [cutting funding for] of the George Miller Centers after so many years, but it's not the worst of the choices we are making." He added, "There are a number of providers in the community capable of providing quality services (for the disabled), and they can do it more cost-effectively." According to the Chronicle, family members of the centers' residents are "scrambling" to find funding and cost savings strategies and are lobbying federal legislators to persuade county supervisors next week to continue to operate the facilities (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.