Jackson County's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year cuts the equivalent of 249 full-time health and human services positions after the county lost contracts to provide mental health care for Oregon Health Plan patients.
However, the proposed budget of almost $339.2 million is almost unchanged from the current budget of nearly $339.4 million. The coming fiscal year starts in July.
County Administrator Danny Jordan said not all the positions related to mental health care had been filled.
Additionally, other county departments are building up their reserves, and those savings have to be added to the budget under government budgeting rules — inflating the total figure. Other departments, including the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport, are also tackling infrastructure projects, which pushes up spending, Jordan said.
Employment in the Jackson County Health and Human Services Department, which includes mental health, doubled after coordinated care organizations that manage Oregon Health Plan patients' physical, mental and dental care contracted with the county for mental health care.
AllCare Health and Jackson Care Connect are in the midst of transferring mental health patients to other providers in the community. They cited a lack of timely access to mental health care and the need to provide care in other settings, including doctors' offices, as reasons for the switch.
Jackson County had been aggressively recruiting and hiring mental health workers amidst a nationwide shortage.
Federal and state money flowing through the coordinated care organizations to Jackson County each year paid for the mental heath care. AllCare was paying $13 million to the county, while Jackson Care Connect was paying $15 million.
Mental health care expanded greatly after Congress passed the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. A Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare failed in March.
The county will continue to provide crisis mental health services as well as certain other types of mental health care.
Various county departments will see additions of 0.5 to 2.5 positions each, including administration, the airport, the assessor's office, the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, community justice, development services, surveying, The Expo and the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. Information technology and the county clerk's office will lose workers.
The county plans to post its 500-plus-page budget document to its website at jacksoncountyor.org.
County property taxes, which bring in about $37 million, will remain unchanged at $2.01 per $1,000 of assessed value — or $402 for a home assessed at $200,000.
Residents can weigh in on the budget during Budget Committee hearings at 8:30 a.m. Monday, April 17, and 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 18, at the Jackson County Courthouse Auditorium, 10 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford.
If needed, the Budget Committee will have a third meeting to continue deliberations on Wednesday, April 19. Public testimony will not be taken during that meeting.
An Elected Officials' Salary Committee meeting is at noon on Monday, April 17, in the County Administrator's Office/Room 214 in the courthouse. The meeting is public, but public testimony on elected officials' salaries will be taken during the April 18 Budget Committee meeting after the presentation of the Salary Committee's report to the Budget Committee.
Reach staff reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.