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Agency change prompts questions

County bureau’s work to move to OFA

November 20, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - The Fulton Youth Bureau Board on Monday discussed the pending consolidation of the bureau's administrative duties into the county Office for Aging starting next year. But there seemed to be more questions than answers.

The board met with part-time bureau Director Charis Gray -whose job is being phased out -at the County Office Building. They also met with OFA Director Andrea Fettinger and bureau liaison Robert Williams of the state Office of Children and Family Services, which provides more than $70,000 in state aid to the bureau. That aid has been reduced greatly in recent years.

"I have some questions," Fettinger said. "I think they are more about procedural [items] rather than programs."

Article Photos

From left, Fulton County Youth Bureau Director Charis Gray and county Office for Aging Director Andrea Fettinger discuss pending bureau changes Monday at the County Office Building in Johnstown.
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich

She noted the bureau will still exist.

"It's really not a merging," Fettinger said of the bureau. "It's going to be a separate entity. It's not going to be in the OFA budget."

As a cost-saving move, the county Board of Supervisors Nov. 13 voted to consolidate administration of the youth bureau into the OFA. The bureau is not being disbanded. Supervisors on Monday formally voted to take $15,864 out of the bureau payroll account for 2013. Gray is the only employee of the bureau and about 50 percent of her salary is paid for by state aid. About $11,000 comes from the county tax levy to pay for the salary. The board also voted to put $4,000 in the budget as a stipend for Fettinger.

"My reaction was concern for the [youth] programs," Gray said. "I think there's a lot of unanswered questions."

Gray said Fulton County is "probably going to lose their eligibility" for state administrative reimbursement of about $7,000 with this move, but that's not certain.

"Whatever the plan, we're going to give you every possible resource," said Williams. "This isn't punitive."

Gray said she met with county officials, who feel the move strengthens the bureau.

"What you think you might be saving in doing that, you lose in expertise," Williams said. "We have to train the next person too."

He said the county doesn't have to continue having a youth bureau advisory board, but must be "more creative" with spending.

Gray said the board will probably meet again in December.



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