State cuts could cost Lexington $5 million

Lexington Center and Liberty, which help support people with development disabilities, are among the agencies across the state facing millions of dollars in cuts under a proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The 6 percent funding cuts for Lexington Center, which is the Fulton County chapter of the ARC, and Liberty, the Montgomery County chapter of the ARC, could take effect April 1.

Wally Hart, Lexington’s division director for business and community development, said Lexington officials are analyzing the roughly $5 million cut to see how much it would affect the agency.

“They’re telling us on April 1 we’re going to lose $5 million. That’s really devastating,” Hart said. “We know that means we’re going to have to look at the services we provide. There are people we support. We serve some of them 24 hours a day. They depend on us. Not having the money, not having $5 million to provide that care, means we’re going to have to look at staffing and what we provide for them.”

According to a news release, Lexington has 1,650 full- and part-time employees who support 1,060 adults and children who are disabled.

The cuts were unveiled Feb. 21, the release said, when Cuomo announced his 30-day amendments to his 2013-14 budget proposal for the state.

Those amendments included a 6 percent reduction in funding to not-for-profit providers that operate under the Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities, which includes Lexington Center and Liberty.

This cut comes after Lexington just completed a $4.5 million cut in December, which already resulted in a reduction in staff.

Hart said the agency also absorbed those cuts by other means, such as traveling less when gas prices increased.

Lexington officials aren’t sure where to turn in the next four weeks, but Hart knows the funding cuts would affect staffing again. He said that could have an affect on the local economy as well.

“There’s just no way we can cut without affecting staffing,” he said. “If we affect staffing, it means they’re not going to have money to spend in the county. It’s going to affect the regional community as well.”

The 6 percent reduction comes after a $500 million budget gap was created due to a reduction in what the federal government will pay the state to care for the developmentally disabled under Medicaid. Federal officials had concluded the state was being reimbursed too much for some Medicaid costs, which they said were too high.

The 6 percent reduction is expected to save $120 million.

Hart said the not-for-profit agencies shouldn’t have to bear this cost.

“We think it could either be spread across all providers – state and volunteer,” he said. “And since it wasn’t money spent on Medicaid funding for us, it was spent on other Medicaid spending services, we shouldn’t have to pay it back … It was other Medicaid services. We don’t think we should pay anything back if we didn’t do anything wrong.”

According to the New York State ARC, the 6 percent funding cut may prompt layoffs among some of the hundreds of private nonprofit groups that serve the disabled and result in fewer services.

Officials with?Liberty could not be reached for comment.

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