New plan: Med staff to stay

Responding to an outpouring of opposition a week earlier, the interim director of the Butte County Department of Behavioral Health (BCBH) last Thursday (May 22) presented a revised set of recommendations for cutting its $48 million budget by $5 million. The biggest change is that the new plan would keep all current medical staff on the job, even though it would outsource services to a private contractor.

The new proposal, Interim Director Ed Walker told the Behavioral Health Advisory Board at a well-attended afternoon meeting at the Chico Masonic Family Center, would guarantee continuity of care. It would, however, result in the elimination of 54 staff positions—mostly counselors, lower-level clinicians and clerical staff. It would also cut several contracts with community agencies. About a dozen clients of Do-It Leisure, which works with the mentally disabled, begged the board to save their program.

Walker assured the board all BCBH services would be maintained and facilities would be open in Paradise and Gridley, though not necessarily in their current locations. A couple of speakers, including Rudy Jenkins, head of the Butte County Employees Association, noted that the county would be saving money at the expense of the BCBH employees.

The county Board of Supervisors will consider the proposed cuts at its June 24 meeting.