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Washtenaw County trying to avoid big job cuts in mental health

Dwight Burdette
creative commons

Washtenaw County is facing up to 70 layoffs in mental health services due to a $4 million budget deficit.

County Commissioner Andy LaBarre is chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

"That could have a hugely detrimental impact, and that's certainly a number that scares the hell out of us, frankly," says LaBarre. "Even losing just a few, these are caseworkers with long-term relationships with these clients. These are services that help individuals with great mental health needs, that of course, if those needs go unmet, there are other consequences, frankly none of which are good."

The Ways and Means Committee will meet Wednesday night to discuss ways to find interim funding for the mental health division. LaBarre says the county will still need to find long-term funding.

LaBarre says the funding shortfall happened because of a number of things occurring at the same time, including a structural change which required the county to in-source services which it had been contracting out.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.