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April 18, 2013
11 more county workers laid off by commissioners

Latest round hits food bank, relief services, domestic violence programs 

Eleven more Tooele County workers were laid off Wednesday, raising the number of released employees to nearly 100 since the county started cutbacks last fall due to budget woes.

This time, staff who worked for the local food bank, relief services and domestic violence assistance programs were let go. However, it appears their unemployment may be brief.

The layoffs are part of an effort by the Tooele County Commission to shift management of those services to Valley Mental Health to save tax dollars — and it appears the organization may hire some of the workers.

The laid off workers include Food Bank Manager Lori Trujillo and Relief Services Coordinator Karen Kuipers.

The laid off positions include three full-time positions and eight part-time positions.

Valley Mental Health is expected to hire four full-time people and seven part-time people, according to Wade Mathews, public information officer for the county.

“This partnership will save tax dollars while utilizing Valley Mental Health’s resources to expand services to our citizens,” said Tooele County Commissioners in a prepared statement released Wednesday afternoon.

The layoffs will save around $150,000 by the end of the year, according to the current 2013 county budget.

The change will be effective May 16 with a transitional period beginning immediately that will assure the continuation of service to the public.

The new program will be called Tooele County Food Bank and Resource Center and will operate out of the current facility at 38 S. Main Street in Tooele.

Key staff additions for Valley Mental Health will include a case management and assessment team, an employment specialist, an education specialist and a family resource facilitator, according to the statement.

County employees who were laid off as result of the change were notified in a meeting Wednesday afternoon. Representatives from Valley Mental Health attended the meeting and encouraged affected employees to apply for the new positions. Applications from the public will also be accepted by Valley Mental Health for the positions.

Valley Mental Health will take over grants and community donations that largely funded the programs and not receive any additional money from the county, according to Commissioner Shawn Milne.

“This is the safest way to ensure that these programs continue to exist in light of budget cuts,” said Milne.

Valley Mental Health is a Salt Lake City-based non-profit organization that provides services for mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and behavior problems in Salt Lake, Tooele, and Summit Counties. Valley Mental Health is funded through grants, contributions, and program service revenue.

Wednesday’s layoffs are part of an effort by the county commissioners to reduce an anticipated 82 percent increase to real property taxes this year as a result of an ongoing budget crisis and cash flow shortage.

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