Children, Youth and Families to Bear Brunt of County Budget Cuts

Article excerpt

Providing children's services in Allegheny County could be a challenge because of across-the-board cuts proposed in next year's budget, said Marc Cherna, director of the Department of Human Services.

The Office of Children, Youth and Families will bear the brunt of $37.2 million worth of cuts County Executive Dan Onorato mentioned in his 2012 budget address to County Council on Tuesday.

The cuts mean the county may reduce funding for its family support centers, after-school programs and family counseling -- all programs designed to keep families together and reduce long-term public welfare spending, Onorato and Cherna said.

"The counties can't pick up the state's obligation," Onorato told reporters before his address, noting that many of the human service programs used to be covered by the state. "If we're going to get cut, these programs are going away."

Onorato said he did not consider a tax increase, noting he has not passed one during his two terms as executive. The property tax rate would remain 4.69 mills.

Onorato declined to say whether he would sign a tax increase if council approved one.

He is proposing a $730.5 million operating budget, down from $767.7 million this year. Including capital projects and grant- funded spending, the total budget is $1.64 billion under Onorato's proposal for the 2012 budget.

Onorato called the budget evidence of a "new reality."

While avoiding layoffs, Onorato said he expects to eliminate 120 jobs next year by leaving positions unfilled. …