Behavioral Health problems aired

Staff, clients use budget workshop to express grievances to county supervisors

A workshop designed to explain the Department of Behavioral Health’s complicated budget problems to Butte County supervisors turned into a pile-on of the department’s past and current leadership Tuesday (Sept. 9), when dozens of current and former staff members, as well as clients, expressed their grievances.

Their argument was that recent staff cuts in response to budget shortfalls were unnecessary, the result of poor management and lousy staff morale, and were going to have devastating impacts on clients.

To some extent, Interim Director Ed Walker agreed, noting that the current management-staff ratio of 1:5 was out of whack. As Supervisor Bill Connelly said, “It seems like a whole lot of chiefs and not many Indians.” Walker said he’d look more closely at the department’s structure.

The department doesn’t get back as much as it spends to provide services, which has created a $5 million shortfall and the resulting layoffs. The supervisors encouraged Walker to look for additional ways to save money but lamented they had no recourse, given state finances, but to cut the budget, which will be implemented beginning Oct. 1.