County will cede control of care facility

Jackson County plans to terminate its control of a mental health home, part of $12 million in cuts proposed in its 2012-13 recommended budget for Health and Human Services.

To save nearly $2.2 million, the county will hand the Hazel Center, a 16-bed mental health facility in north Medford, over to the state. About half of the secure residential treatment facility's population are clients who have committed crimes but were found to be mentally ill at the time. The other half are extended-care patients transferred from the state hospital to community-based care.

The transfer will result in a reduction of about 20 employees from the county budget. Whether all employees will retain their jobs during the transfer is not known, officials said.

"That's going to be the state of Oregon's decision as to what they want to do there," said Health and Human Services Director Mark Orndoff.

The county is not required to manage the program, County Administrator Danny Jordan said.

Mike Morris, a state manager for addictions and mental health programs, said when the state takes over, it will contract with an outside service provider to manage the center.

"We are committed to keeping that program going there in Jackson County and having those services available," Morris said. "We're going to be working really closely with (Jackson County) to explore what the options are."

An additional $9.68 million of the reductions comes from changes in how developmental disabilities programs will be funded. The programs will still receive the money, but will get it directly from the state, Orndoff said.

The department also has proposed cutting $185,543 for student-based health centers at Crater and Ashland high schools. School districts will have to decide whether to terminate or continue funding the programs through other means, Orndoff said.

The Commission on Children and Families, completely funded by state and federal dollars, saw about $1.1 million in cuts, the budget shows. It will be staffed by a contracted manager.

"It looks like the Commission will be able to operate one more year, but even that is uncertain," Orndoff said.

Lastly, the department recommends giving OnTrack direct control over $129,085 in alcohol and drug treatment funding.

The total cuts represent 34.6 full-time equivalency positions, Jordan's budget message said.

The HHS cuts will bring its annual budget from $62 million down to $50 million next fiscal year. Of that $50 million, $34.6 million is operating revenue. The remaining $15 million, which came from an HHS 2011-12 ending fund balance, will be used to remodel the post office building to consolidate all HHS programs to one location. The post office is moving to South Riverside Avenue between Ninth and 10th streets later this spring.

The recommended budget shows a health administration bump of three full-time positions, which were billing positions transferred from mental health and public health to administration. They will still be funded by mental health and public health funds.

The last few years have seen an increased demand for HHS services in mental health, developmental disabilities, veteran's services and the Women, Infants and Children program.

"This all in an environment where we've either had flat or reduced funding from the state," Orndoff said.

Loss of state revenue, which funds 72 percent of the department, necessitated the cuts, which will be done either through retirements, vacancies or transfer of program control to the state, Orndoff said.

The department oversees 10 divisions in the county, including animal control, drug and alcohol treatment, and environmental health.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

Share This Story