November 6, 2001
Contact: John Hutto, Director of Communications
SCDMH Plans for Budget Cut
Columbia, SC: Today at the monthly meeting of the Mental Health Commission, State Director George Gintoli presented to the Commission the Department's plan to manage a 4 percent budget reduction for Fiscal Year 2002 mandated October 30, 2001, by the Budget and Control Board. For SCDMH, that amount is $7.6 million.
Since the Department is projecting a deficit this fiscal year because of reductions mandated in the last legislative session, this 4 percent reduction places the Department in the position of reducing its budget almost $12.2 million this fiscal year to balance.
The Mental Health Commission approved the Department's budget reduction plan. The plan will necessitate a reduction-in-force of up to 200 employees, primarily from Richland and Lexington counties. Mental Health Commission Chair Douglas Gay from Rock Hill said, " The entire commission regrets that the Department again will have to reduce services to people with a mental illness in South Carolina and that employees with long years of faithful service to the state and to the people we serve will lose their jobs."
The Department's budget reduction plan includes the following actions:
* Transfer all patients (150) in the Williams Building at the State Hospital to other SCDMH facilities that are environmentally more suitable or into the community through the Toward Local Care (TLC) program, if appropriate. This action will close the Williams Building. Some of the State Hospital staff will accompany the patients to their new locations or be used elsewhere in the Department. The Department expects to have an annualized savings of $6.6 million as a result.
* Reduce the number of children and adolescents placed in the out-of-home residential program and increase the frequency of re-assessments to assure appropriate clinical placement. This action should result in an annualized savings of $2.7 million.
* Consolidate certain operational and clinical functions within the Columbia Behavioral System, including State Hospital, Hall Psychiatric Institute, Morris Village, and Bryan Psychiatric Hospital. This action should generate $2 million in annualized savings.
* Implement an across-the-board reduction of 2 percent in community mental health centers and 3 percent in the Department's Central Administration, effective January 2002. This action should generate about $4 million annualized. This cut is in addition to the Department's 9 percent (clinical operations) and the 15 percent (administrative operations ) across-the-board reductions approved by the Commission earlier this year.
Since the implementation of most of these actions will not occur until past the midpoint of the fiscal year, the impact on this year's budget will be savings of $6.1 million. To cover the projected budget deficit of $12.2 million and balance the budget, the Department will have to use non-recurring reserve funds of about $6.1 million.
Said State Director Gintoli, "This additional budget reduction further stresses an already underfunded system of care for our most disadvantaged South Carolinians, but we will continue to do the best we can for the people we serve and for our employees. We will always endeavor to treat our clients with dignity and to ensure we provide the highest quality of care possible."
In spite of the severe, ongoing budget cuts, the Department continues to offer innovative, effective programs. The Toward Local Care program has improved the quality of life of clients moved into the community; all of the Department's community mental health centers and hospitals are accredited; and the Department's children's programs are focusing on a multi-systemic therapy approach to provide complete "wrap around" services for children.