Butte County cuts mental-health staff

With outsourcing found illegal, Board of Supervisors turns to Plan B

After two boisterous meetings of its advisory board, the Butte County Behavioral Health Department (BCBH) has learned its unpopular plan to contract out mental-health services and close clinics in Paradise and Gridley was—dig this—never legal in the first place.

That from Chief Administrative Officer Brian Haddix, who stated in a memo that the government code, the county charter and county personnel rules all “preclude the County from taking that action.”

Instead, Haddix came up with a plan—called Schedule B—to cut 26 positions from the department and reduce the number of clients by 10 percent, from 6,700 to about 6,000.

BCBH Interim Director Ed Walker said time pressures to come up with a budget caused the legality flub. “We just didn’t have time to do the proper vetting and analysis,” he said.

In any event, the Board of Supervisors approved the new budget proposal Tuesday (June 24), but not before several current and former employees stepped forward to offer an alternative plan. They sought to save money instead by combining administrative and medical positions and taking an across-the-board cut in hours, but it didn’t fly, at least for now.

Supervisor Maureen Kirk later called the BCBH budget “a work in progress” and said if there was some way to restore the positions, the county would do so.