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Some York County services affected by state budget impasse
Some human service agencies in York County are starting to feel the financial pinch as state-issued funds begin to dry up after Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the Republican-drafted state budget nearly a month ago.
YWCA York took out a line of credit to make sure it can meet payroll if the standoff over the budget between Democrats and Republicans in Harrisburg continues a few more months.
The organization at 320 E. Market St. in York City hasn't had to rely on creditors for cash yet, said CEO Jean Treuthart, but it could be unavoidable if the budget standoff continues into the fall.
Services: YWCA York receives $2.3 million — about 37 percent of its budget — annually from the state to fund its learning centers, rape crisis services and to operate two domestic violence shelters.
If a budget isn't passed, the organization can't simply close up shop until the state funding stream flows again, Treuthart said.
"When a woman and her children need to flee their home in the middle of the night due to a domestic violence situation, we have to have our doors at ACCESS-York open and be ready to take them in," she said, noting more than 4,000 calls are placed to the crisis hotline each year. "The YWCA is not the type of nonprofit that can reduce hours or cut mandated services."
The line of credit also carries a burden.
"The accrued interest would be an unbudgeted expense, so that would need to be offset with other cuts during this fiscal year," Treuthart said.
Rep. Kate Klunk, R-Hanover, said during a recent news conference that rape crisis centers across the state are missing out on $9.6 million, part of roughly $13 billion in funding for human services that would otherwise flow to counties and nonprofit groups.
Though YWCA York has reserve funds to help offset the impact of the impasse, the same can't be said for some smaller nonprofits that already operate on shoestring budgets.
The veto: When Wolf, a Democrat from Mount Wolf, vetoed the entire budget, critics said he should have instead issued line-item vetoes on aspects of the Republican-drafted budget he didn't like.
During a radio interview on Friday, Wolf acknowledged he's aware some agencies, including nonprofit social-service providers, could have to borrow money to continue operations.
He also noted borrowing costs aren't reimbursable by the state, and he's doing everything he can to find ways to protect social-services agencies
Wolf vetoed a no-new-taxes Republican budget plan that he says didn't meet his goals for more education funding, fixing a long-term deficit and cutting school property taxes.
County agencies: York County-run service agencies are also starting to feel the effects of the impasse. The Area Agency on Aging last week stopped accepting new consumers who are seeking services, such as personal care and home-support services. They're now adding their names to a waiting list instead.
Residents who currently receive services aren't affected yet, said Carl Lindquist, county spokesman.
In order for the agency to continue to provide services to existing consumers, it had to tap into its reserve fund. It could be forced to dip into the county's general fund if the state goes much longer without a budget and reserves are expended, he said.
"We are hopeful that the General Assembly and governor soon will reach an agreement on a new budget that provides responsible levels of funding for the services provided through county government," Lindquist said. "In the meantime, our staff will do everything possible to minimize the impact on our community and continue to provide the high level of service residents expect."
Protective services, such as elder abuse and neglect investigations, aren't affected by the waiting list.
Funding: The Area Agency on Aging receives roughly $10.3 million annually, much of which comes from the state through lottery revenues, to fund its operation.
Though lottery numbers are still drawn daily and people continue to buy scratch-off tickets, revenue from sales is essentially stuck in Harrisburg.
"For (the Area Agency on) Aging, most of the money comes from the lottery, but without a budget, they can't release it," said director Mark Shea.
The county's Human Services Department has halted payments to service providers covered by state funding, and Children, Youth & Families is anticipating having to do the same thing if Democrats and Republicans can't come to terms on a budget.
"We do not anticipate any interruption in service yet, since most of these providers have been through this situation before and have lines of credit or other contingency plans in place," Lindquist said.
— Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.