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Additional Support Approved for Community Outreach Worker Program

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Additional Support Approved for Community Outreach Worker Program

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Legislature, by unanimous vote, appropriated $25,000 from the County’s Contingent Fund to provide additional support for the Community Outreach Worker Program.  The program, operated through Family and Children’s Service of Ithaca and jointly funded by the County, City of Ithaca, and Downtown Ithaca Alliance, with additional support from Cayuga Medical Center, was established four years ago to address potential conflicts in the downtown Ithaca area—engaging people with a kind attitude and supporting a welcoming and inclusive downtown environment.  Since the program’s inception in 2015, the County has allocated $20,000 each year as its share of support for one community outreach worker to respond to and address potential issues.

Asked to support expansion of the program to two outreach workers to meet an increased case management need, the Legislature during the 2019 County Budget process set aside the $25,000 in contingency, to be released after a review of program operations, which has occurred over the past several months.  F&CS proposed hiring a second outreach worker to stabilize the current workload in the downtown corridor.  The Legislature’s action increases the County’s total 2019 appropriation to $45,000 which, along with a $45,000 contribution from the City and $30,000 from the Downtown Alliance, will underwrite a second community outreach worker for the remainder of 2019.  County Administrator Jason Molino cautions, however, that an additional $15,000 from the County (to a total appropriation of $60,000) would be required from the County to fully fund the second position during 2020.  That issue will be part of the 2020 budget discussion.

Legislator Rich John was one who praised the collaborative review process that led to this decision.  “It’s been a long time coming,” he said, and thanked his colleagues for their work on the steering committee.  “It’s important that we have the more formalized oversight.  I think that is a very positive addition to this program,” he said.