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Fayette Community Action staff hours cut

| Friday, June 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Citing challenging economic times for nonprofits, a Fayette County Community Action Agency administrator on Thursday confirmed that a majority of its staff members' hours have been cut.

“Our goal is to minimize disruptions for our clients,” said Jim Stark, the social service agency's CEO.

Stark said about 75 percent of the Uniontown agency's 72-member staff had their hours trimmed 30 percent, starting this week.

He said he hoped hours could be restored by mid-July.

Staff members will stagger work hours so that the cuts do not affect hours the office is open or services, Stark said.

Early summer months are particularly challenging as the state budget is finalized and contracts are negotiated, Stark said.

“That creates a slowness in funds coming into the agency. In past years, we have had temporary layoffs (until new contracts are in place). We are hoping to avoid that this year,” he said.

This year's federal sequester and the continuing budget resolution has nonprofits worrying that some state contracts will be at best delayed, at worst delayed and reduced, Stark said.

Westmoreland Community Action CEO Tay Waltenbaugh agreed that “money flow issues” are common at this time of year, but staff layoffs or hourly cuts are not planned.

The Greensburg agency has instead utilized options including its line of credit and not filling open positions, Waltenbaugh said.

Stark said another challenge nonprofits face is that, depending on the program, 70-75 percent of costs can be personnel-related.

Last fall, he said, the Fayette County agency closed an in-house service program for the elderly because the state reimbursement rate was inadequate to support staff salary and travel.

“We don't want to discourage people from contacting our agency,” Stark said.

Different contracts have different criteria, and volunteers and donations help to offset reductions, he said.

“Our community support is terrific. We couldn't exist without support from individuals, businesses, church groups, from volunteer hours to food drives,” Stark said.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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