More cuts loom for Fairfax social services

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Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland

Even after Fairfax County supervisors helped plug a $9 million hole in the budget for social programs, the social services director has been told he may have to keep cutting programs.

George Braunstein, executive director of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, said the agency has already eliminated 17 jobs and done away with planned expansions of programs designed to help the homeless. Any further cuts could start to gut some of the organization's more popular programs, including those designed to help at-risk youth with mental illnesses.

"We've run out of cuts on the edges," Braunstein said. "There are no more reductions we can take without harming our services and the people we serve."

Like other county agencies, the social services board was told to identify ways to reduce its budget by as much as 10 percent over the next two years. Braunstein said he's asked the staff to start making those preparations, though it's not clear yet which programs may be axed. The agency has until mid-October to identify the cuts.

Further cuts will be felt in programs early on, Fairfax City Councilman David Meyer said, but they may permanently close holes in the organization's operating budget. Dealing with the funding shortfalls now also means the city and county wouldn't have to go through "this nail biting process" of cutting resources and seeking funding each year, he said.

Braunstein revealed earlier this year that the social services budget was running a $9.5 million deficit because the agency failed to meet its "overly optimistic revenue projections," faced rising employee benefit costs and resisted cutting services because the recession that was reducing its resources was also increasing demand for its programs.

Braunstein is now meeting with social service organizations that have raised concerns about their own funding, including the advisory board of the Gartlan Center, which serves those with mental illnesses.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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Taylor Holland

Staff writer
The Washington Examiner