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Long IslandSuffolk

Islip services agency eyed for budget cuts

Supervisor Tom Croci. (Dec. 29, 2011)

Supervisor Tom Croci. (Dec. 29, 2011) Photo Credit: James Carbone

Islip officials are planning a major reorganization of the town's human services department that would cut programs and jobs but save more than $1.6 million in 2013.

Facing a projected $26 million deficit, the council is expected Tuesday to introduce the cost-cutting plan and announce public hearings in May.

"We're trying to find ways to run it more efficiently," said Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt.

The department costs the town $4.8 million per year to run, with 75 full-time and 38 part-time employees, Bergin Weichbrodt said.

Council members Saturday said they were unsure how many jobs would be eliminated or how many people would be affected by cuts in services, such as the town's teen pregnancy program.

"We will be scaling back our workforce," Bergin Weichbrodt said. "We just don't have a read on it yet."

Acting Commissioner Carol Charchalis could not immediately be reached for comment.

Councilman Anthony Senft said the department's programs are being evaluated based on cost and whether they provide essential services. Also under consideration, he said, is whether the programs can be run more efficiently if privatized.

Under the plan, the town's $2.5 million-a-year drug and alcohol counseling program would revert to Suffolk County, which currently provides most of its funding. That move would save the town $540,000.

On Tuesday, the board is expected to authorize Supervisor Tom Croci to send a letter declining annual grant money for the drug and alcohol program. Croci said the county will likely seek proposals from local nonprofits to run the program.

"We have seen the private organizations come up with very comprehensive treatment that a town just can't provide," he said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone could not be reached for comment.

The proposed Islip reorganization, which would take effect in about six months, eliminates a formerly state-funded teen pregnancy assistance program that serves about 50.

Other proposed changes call for dismantling the department's five-employee disabled services division. Some functions would be shifted to the clerk's office and an accessibility liaison position would be created.

Services for seniors wouldn't be reduced, but they would be managed by the Parks and Recreation Department to "minimize administration staff" and reduce overhead. The Youth Bureau would be moved into the supervisor's office to reduce administrative costs.

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