Answering your budget questions - Jul 5, 2016
Recently, we have received some questions about the budget deficit we are facing and the reasons for it. I wanted to address them here in case others have the same questions.
Basically, the situation is that we have had no revenue growth in several years and have experienced significant reductions.
When the 2014 levy was passed, it was not for an increase. By 2019, when the next levy will be up for vote, the agency will have gone 10 years with no increase. The levy is 76 percent of our agency’s total funding.
At the same time, we have received a decrease in annual revenue of 6 percent due to the elimination of the Tangible Personal Property Tax (TPPT) and in the state budget. We have experienced a jump from 24 percent to 52 percent in the waiver match we must provide, which is about $4.5 million a year. In addition, 35 new people seek services each month, and there is a waiting list for some services. All of these factors caused us to prepare for what is expected to be an $18 million deficit by 2019.
One measure we have taken to combat this expected shortfall is an early retirement incentive program (ERIP) that has been offered a few times. In addition to the ERIP, we have restructured functions and positions so when people leave, we evaluate their position and decide whether or not to fill it. Everything possible has been addressed to help the budget crunch without layoffs, as the resulting disruptions in services and lives would be too harsh for everyone involved.
The number of people we employ has dropped significantly, and resulted in significant restructuring of duties across the agency. The financial factors we are experiencing, as well as the federal forces that are driving massive system change, are making delivery of services challenging in unprecedented ways.
However, in spite of these challenges, we will continue to work together always with the goal of doing what is best for people with disabilities and their families. I know all of you will join me in that goal and we will thrive through these challenges.
Alice C. Pavey