County to layoff two substance abuse counselors

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San Benito County supervisors reluctantly approved the layoff of
two of the county’s five substance abuse counselors because of a
impending $100,000 cut to state funding for the program.
Hollister – San Benito County supervisors reluctantly approved the layoff of two of the county’s five substance abuse counselors because of a impending $100,000 cut to state funding for the program.

The state will possibly cut the San Benito County’s Substance Abuse Program’s $1 million budget by about 10 percent, Director Marc Narasaki reported to the board last week. Though the state has not yet cut the funds, Narasaki, anticipating that his program will lose the money, sought board approval to start the lay off process.

Having to lay of two of the county’s five substance abuse counselors is, “Something that has caused me many sleepless nights,” Narasaki said to the board.

Though the board unanimously approved the layoffs, supervisors seemed vexed by the prospect of losing 40 percent of the substance abuse program’s counseling staff.

During the meeting, Supervisor Reb Monaco said he understood the programs’ ‘precarious’ financial situation, but said he has, “concern for the delivery model for services.”

The county’s substance abuse program, which provides counseling for drug addicted adults and children, has a long history of success, particularly with young people, Monaco said.

“We could wind up gutting the program of counselors, and I have a concern with that,” he said. “I’m very concerned about the issue of not having staff … how can we keep this a viable program in our county?”

He also suggested that alternative ways of funding be explored, such as grassroots fundraisers.

If they go through, the layoffs will mean a reduction in services offered by the substance abuse program, Narasaki said, adding that he would be taking on some of the case load that would have been handled by the two counselors.

In an effort to keep the state from cutting funding to the program, supervisors voted to draft a resolution to be sent to the state department of Health and Human Services outlining the need for a fully funded substance abuse program in the county.

If funding is not cut by the state, the two substance abuse counselors facing layoffs will be able to keep their jobs, said acting Chief Administrative Officer Susan Lyons.

“We can start the lay off process,” she said during the meeting. “If the funds come through the action can be rescinded.”

Luke Roney covers politics and agriculture for the Free Lance. Reach him at 831-637-5566 ext. 335 or at [email protected]

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