Janesville42.1°

Budget would shift services

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ANN MARIE AMES
March 7, 2011
— Wisconsin residents who want to apply for income maintenance services next year might be applying to a state-run office rather than county-run offices.

Rock County officials on Thursday learned the state also wants to take control of tax levy dollars the county budgets to run the income maintenance office, said Charmian Klyve, director of the Rock County Human Services Department.


In 2009, that was $764,000, Klyve said.


"This is a fairly large change" the county did not anticipate, Klyve said. The change would take place by May 2012 if Gov. Scott Walker's version of the budget stands. Walker released his proposal Tuesday.


In Rock County, county workers administer state and federal programs to provide income maintenance services at the Rock County Job Center, 1900 Center Ave., Janesville. Income maintenance includes Badger Care, Food Share and Medical Assistance, Klyve said.


The office also administers W-2 and a child-care certification program, she said.


The office in 2009 served 15,527 unduplicated cases, Klyve said. That number has been increasing since 1998 and jumped in 2009 when the unemployment rate rose, according to Rock County 2011 budget documents.


The number seemed to stabilize at 15,520 in August 2010, the county budget documents state.


The county's economic support division employs 53 workers, Klyve said.


The economic support division and other human services divisions such as mental health, crisis intervention and juvenile justice, operate "basically at the behest of the state," according to the county budget documents.


The change would centralize and automate the income maintenance eligibility determination system, according to a summary of the state budget. The summary was written by the Wisconsin Department of Administration.


The change would cut program costs annually by $48 million and cut 270 full-time-equivalency positions, the document states.


The change would improve efficiency by "centralizing and automating" services, the document states.


Klyve said it's too soon to know how the state would go about taking over the program or what the end result would look like. County officials expect to learn more by reading the Legislative Audit Bureau's analysis of the budget, Klyve said. That document should be released in a couple weeks, she said.


The change is a policy one, so it would be up to the Rock County Board to decide whether the change would be good for Rock County, Klyve said.


"We have some concerns about the potential for the transfer," Klyve said. "But we're waiting for additional clarification."



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