MOUNT VERNON — Although the economy is showing signs of recovery, it may be some time before good news works its way through the bureaucratic system. Wendy Williams and Jesse Marlow of the Community Mental Health and Recovery Board met with the Knox County Commissioners on Monday to inform them of cuts to CMHRB’s operating budget brought on by the new state budget recently finalized in Columbus.
After sustaining a $500,000 drop in the 2009 budget year, CMHRB executive director Williams said they are facing a $1.7 million cut for the 2010 budget, leaving the board with a little over $1.9 million debt. Marlow, CMHRB chairman, added that they have been working proactively to prioritize the services they fund, and to make cuts accordingly. Although most core services will survive untouched, Williams said many preventive services will not receive funding.
A $1 million carryover from previous years is helping CMHRB lessen the impact of the cuts, but that will still leave a $900,000 deficit that will have to be found in reduced services to the Knox and Licking County areas served by the board. Williams said this is a one-time action that will not be an option in coming years.
“In 2011, it’s looking pretty dire,” Williams said, adding that projections are showing that by that point CMHRB will no longer have enough funds to pay for many core services.
Commissioner Teresa Bemiller asked what impact these cuts would have on Moundbuilders in Mount Vernon. Williams said that since they are involved in mainly core services, Moundbuilders will escape with much less impact compared to what most of their affiliated agencies will experience. New Directions and The Freedom Center, both of which are more involved in preventive services, will lose funding for a number of services under the new budget. Williams said CMHRB is working hard to find alternate funding for those lost funds. She noted that New Directions might experience some relief from the $40,500 in stimulus funding which came to the faciity from the recently passed Violence Against Women Act.
“This is a very difficult time for mental health and recovery services throughout Ohio,” Williams said. “Our communities, time and time again, have supported our mission and services at the ballot box. It’s time for the state to live up to its commitment and adequately fund mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services.”
She said that despite the reduction in funding, CMHRB will maintain its full commitment to program priorities and populations.