Umatilla County Community Corrections will be closing its program center earlier than expected - again because of budget cuts from the state.

Community Corrections Director Mark Royal told commissioners Wednesday he needs to close the center by April 1. Last month, Royal the commissioners gave Royal permission to close the facility at the end of the fiscal year, on June 30. Now Royal's found his department can't afford to keep it open that long.

"Today I come to you with a heavy heart," he said to commissioners Wednesday, "to explain that we're going to see a reduction in this current biennium based on what the state budget woes are right now."

Statewide community corrections will lose almost $7 million, Royal said, which comes down to $200,000 for Umatilla County, which he has to cut in the last three months of the fiscal year.

Along with closing the facility early, Royal listed other cuts he has to make to meet the $200,000 mark. Those included:

? Reduce the costs for beds community corrections rents from the Umatilla County Jail by 25 percent

? Eliminate a bookkeeper position attached to the program center

? Reduce the program center work crew supervisor to a 32-hour work week

? Accept three unpaid holidays (furlough days) each for every administrative position in community corrections except the drug court coordinator

? Remove a vacant probation officer position

? Reduce the Morrow County jail bed rental contract

In all there are eight layoffs - seven with the program center plus the bookkeeper - and one reduction - the probation officer position - Royal said.

Commissioner Bill Hansell noted this reduction puts the county in a tricky position, where the county might be expected to opt out and let the state take over services.

To do this, Royal said the county would submit a letter of intent to opt out to the state. If they just wanted to entertain the idea at this time it could and withdraw the letter in the next biennium.

If the county did opt out of community corrections services, Royal said the state department of corrections would need six months to retrain people.

"There could be a real snowball effect here," Hansell said.

He believed if counties across the state begin to opt out of providing these services, the state will have to take over programs, which could be more expensive overall.

"Which leaves less money for the rest of us to operate," Hansell said.

"I think you hit it right on the head," Royal agreed. "They would operate with the same amount of money and it would cost more so you'd get less service."

Hansell encouraged having a discussion about opting out with staff to see how they felt about the idea.

Royal said no counties have opted out yet, but it may be too early in the planning stages for many to consider it.

Royal also warned commissioners next biennium's budget cuts will likely be even deeper.

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