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FCCSD requests $25K in fed funds

Needed for inmate mental health expenses

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Community Services Department recently requested permission from county legislators to use more than $25,000 in federal funds for mental health expenses involving inmates.

Director of Community Services Ernest Gagnon requested a transfer of $12,814 in 100 percent federal funding accumulated over 15 years. The Board of Supervisors’ Human Services Committee approved action, to be finalized Monday by the full board.

“This funding does not come in a predictable manner,” Gagnon said.

He said this “salary sharing funds” represents federal filtered down to the state for Medicaid administration, usually earmarked for commitment of inmates.

Gagnon said Gov. Andrew Cuomo’ s 2020-21 budget indicated inmates who can’t participate in their own defense are the full responsibility of the county. He said this will double the amount the county would be responsible for, possibly exceeding $28,000 per month or more. He said the county treasurer and budget officer in consultation are no longer allowing the Community Services Department to accumulate the funds, as allowed by the state.

A separate proposed resolution also passed to transfer a separate pot of $12,811 in federal funds, which was also accumulated by the department over 15 years time.

“I’d rather accumulate these funds to pay off state expenses, but told I can’t,” Gagnon said.

In another accounting “clean up” issue, Gagnon requested a resolution involving state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse funding.

“Basically, OASAS has moved federal prevention funds from the federal line to the state line,” he said.

Gagnon received committee approval to move $117,,000 in 2020 budgeted funds. He said the state moved federal Prevention funds his department used to receive directly from the federal government through the state agency. He said federal funds have to be tracked separately for audit purposes if received directly.

He also noted the state may be holding back second quarter aid funds due to potential 20 percent reductions due to a lack of state money from the COVID-19 breakout.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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