Federal cuts looming PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT & JAN McLAUGHLIN Sentinel Staff Writers   
Friday, 01 March 2013 10:23
File photo. Inside view of the Jordan Center, one of the local businesses affected by federal cuts. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The sequestration of local funds could result in WSOS Community Action's social services being cut by about $2.5 million.
The community action agency which serves Wood County as well as Sandusky, Seneca and Ottawa counties would see cuts in all its programs, said Ruthann House, acting WSOS president and CEO. "Almost every program we run comes out of discretionary funds."
House said even after a webinar with an official from the White House she was uncertain exactly how the reductions would take place. "We don't know those details."
It was up to the various federal departments to determine that, she said, and WSOS gets money from several federal departments including Health and Human Services, Labor and Energy. 
Though the sequester calls for a 5-percent cut, that reduction would be retroactive to the beginning of the federal fiscal year Oct. 1, 2012. That means funding for the last seven months of the year would be more like 8.1 percent.
For the Head Start program that would translate into a $360,000 cut, or funding for 40 to 45 students. House said she's uncertain whether the funding will continue through the end of the school year so youngsters now enrolled will be able to remain in class.
The cuts could also mean one less day of senior meal delivery, and would reduce the amount of money available for emergency heating assistance.
House said that WSOS "is always aggressive in seeking" funds from other sources, and those efforts will continue in order to fill the void left by federal reductions.
Other governmental offices in Wood County that receive federal funding are trying to decipher what the sequestration might mean to them.
As of yet, there are no certain answers.
Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said inquiries were sent out to various offices several months ago to try to determine the impact of the federal cuts.
"We've tried to anticipate this," he said.
Possible cuts are expected to the Wood County Planning Commission, which receives federal money each year for Community Development Block Grants. "That's probably something on the chopping block," Kalmar said. However, the funding for this year is already determined, so the annual grants should go as scheduled this year.
Northwestern Water and Sewer District, which gets a lot of federal funding for projects, should not be affected anytime soon, according to Jerry Greiner, executive director of the district.
Funding for projects is set for the next three years or so, Greiner said.
The Wood County Health Department is waiting to see the impact on its services, according to Pat Snyder, public information office with the local health department. Though nothing definite has been determined, the Ohio Department of Health is cautioning local departments of possible cuts in grant funding. In order to cut costs, the state is also leaning toward merging local health departments and creating regional programs rather than individual county programs.
Last Updated on Friday, 01 March 2013 14:06

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