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Oct 19, 2009 1:07 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Youth Services, Criminal Justice Program bear the brunt of Southampton Town Human Services budget cuts

Oct 19, 2009 1:07 PM

The Southampton Town Youth Bureau may lose two full-time staffers next year, effectively cutting its programming in half. A program designed to limit repeat offenses by defendants facing criminal charges in Southampton Town may vanish come January. And senior citizens may have to wait an extra day or two for Southampton Town-sponsored transportation.

Those are some of the shortfalls Southampton Town’s Human Services Department will face if the proposed $78.8 million budget for 2010 passes without revision on November 20. Supervisor Linda Kabot’s plan cuts town spending by more than $3 million from last year’s $82.5 million and includes laying off 44 employees and cutting some $1.5 million in programming and services, all in an attempt to deal with declining revenue and deficits in several town budgets, blamed in part on several years of poor record-keeping.

The Human Services budget will be slashed $577,000, from $4.8 million to $4.3 million, said Deputy Supervisor Bill Jones, who is also the director of the Human Services Department. The Criminal Justice Program, the Youth Bureau and Senior Services all face cuts.

The Criminal Justice program will lose its sole case worker, Michelle Wright, who earned $75,000 in salary this year, effectively eliminating the program, Mr. Jones said.

The program, started in 2002, provides offenders in Southampton Town free case management to help stop them from bouncing back and forth from the street to jail. Ms. Wright manages a variety of cases, from people who have committed small offenses to those being released from jail and back into the community. The program also directs criminals to support services, like alcohol or drug addiction treatment and or employment services.

Ms. Wright is still in shock after learning last week that her program may be cut and she may be out of the job. “I’m disappointed because I don’t think the powers that be understand the needs of a program,” she said, referring to Southampton Town officials. “I don’t think they understand how many people are affected by the criminal justice system.

If criminal offenders don’t get the outreach they need, and if the program is eliminated in January, street-level offenses may be on the rise in Southampton, Ms. Wright said. “It’s scary,” she added. “You can’t force them to make them believe that people deserve a second chance.”

The Southampton Town Youth Bureau will also be hit hard with a 38-percent reduction if the 2010 budget passes as is. The bureau already endured a 20-percent cut in 2009.

“We took a pretty hard hit last year,” said Nancy Lynott, the director of the bureau. She implied that more cuts would be unfair. “We are aware of the financial challenges facing the town, and we don’t think we should be exempt,” she said. “It’s not that we’re not willing to be part of the solution, we just want to be an equal part.”

Two full-time workers, a youth counselor and an assistant director, will be eliminated under the 2010 budget. The bureau’s full-time salary line will drop from $245,000 in 2009 to a proposed $131,000 in 2010. The part-time staff salaries will also be reduced from $140,000 in 2009 to $102,000 in 2010, Ms. Lynott said. Those cuts are half of her staff, she added.

“The reductions would necessitate a 50-percent reduction in services,” Ms. Lynott said, noting she’s not yet sure what the program will look like.

“We’re trying to prepare information on how the budget will effect us in the long run,” she said. “It’s too early to speculate what programs will be cut.”

Drop-in centers in Flanders and Southampton, which provide a safe and healthy place for kids after the school day ends, may be scaled back, Ms. Lynott said. Also, the Youth Court program could be reduced, and the bureau may not be able to continue with Broader Horizons, a program that employs about 20 Southampton Town teenagers over the summer.

“Those kids could be out of job in the summer,” she said.

The Youth Bureau provides preventative services and the consequences of the proposed cuts will cost Southampton Town more in the long run, Ms. Lynott said.

“I don’t have data that measures the impact of doing what we do because we’re all about prevention,” she said. “I can’t sit here and say it will cost X amount of dollars. But if we don’t provide these services, it will increase costs down the road.”

Southampton Town’s proposed 2010 budget also calls for eliminating a $70,000 contract with the Family Service League, which provides mental health counseling and psychiatric services to Southampton Town youth. The Youth Bureau has maintained a contract with them since 2003. The Family Service League serviced 60 Southampton Town youths in 2008, Ms. Lynott said.

The 2009 budget also called for eliminating the contract, but the Youth Bureau was able to restore $70,000. They hope to do the same this year, Ms. Lynott said.

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Leave the youth bureau alone. These monies improve the lives of our kids and, in turn, the lives of all of us. How about everyone who works for the town taking an across the board 10% temporary pay cut until revenues improve.

By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Oct 19, 09 1:26 PM
I certainly agree layoffs should be avoided; however the Town has to deal with the unions in terms of pay reduction, payroll lag, or anything else dealing with terms and conditions of employment. Outside of the layoffs the Town was looking for a payroll lag with will provide a one time cash infusion and the delay of an already negotiated wage increase; both of those givebacks are "softies" and do not require too much pain on the part of employees. Hopefully the unions will step up to the plate and ...more
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Oct 19, 09 2:39 PM
Cost efficiencies should not be borne by those most in need.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Oct 19, 09 2:49 PM
The part-timers should be let go first!
By left eq (28), Southampton on Oct 19, 09 4:22 PM
Southampton Town is run by people with no management experience. Period. Their interests lie primarily in building up tax revenue so they have more money to play with.

We need to revise the current two-term limit for Town Board. Two terms are OK, but the second one should be spent in prison.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Oct 19, 09 5:50 PM
There is one programm that should not be cut and that is the one that helps keep young people out of going to jail the youth bureau,,is a great use of money,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,ask a parent trying to help their kids from jail,,,,,,,,,,,I have no dog in this fight but as usual Mental patients jail people and homeless/HOME BOUND are easy targets no one to to make their cases ,,,,,please keep their benafits ,maby we do not need a ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, just remember the voiceless,,,,,,,,,,,you will get ...more
By Etians rd (543), Southampton on Oct 19, 09 6:46 PM

There is $3.6M in the proposed budget for 27 police officers who have served beyond their twenty year employment anniversary when they were supposed to retire. (See above link.)

When the retirement of six of them, chosen by the Chief of Police, was proposed for consideration by Linda Kabot a year ago, the STPD descended en masse on a Town Council meeting, in uniform, insulted the Supervisor, and intimidated ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 20, 09 12:26 AM
1 member liked this comment
Look the youth bureau is something we all need to worry about. This is the program in the town that helps the kids stay out of trouble, and get kids on the right path. And a 38 PERCENT cut on top of the 20 of last year, this is madness. The youth bureau is something that needs to stay. It provides a safe place too.

And the fact that they are wanting to cut the 70,000 on the family service legue is disgusting. Thats wrong to take that away.

I am a local teen in southampton ...more
By LocalTeen (1), southampton on Oct 27, 09 11:38 AM