State - INACTIVE

Stanislaus County health worker layoffs likely

Stanislaus County could lose six public health workers in the next round of budget-related layoffs going before the Board of Supervisors this evening.

Also tonight, the board is expected to decide whether to establish new rules for parking big rigs on rural property.

Losing public health workers "can translate into a less prepared and (less) capable emergency response team" if an epidemic or other emergency were to arise, a staff report says.

Three health workers, two nurses and a secretary are likely to lose their jobs as supervisors turn their attention to the county's Health Services Agency. Its public health division is involved with immunizations, communicable diseases, HIV and sexually transmitted disease prevention, refugee health, pregnancy support services, tobacco education and teen pregnancy prevention, but it doesn't include county health clinics.

The proposal includes cutting 11 vacant positions.

"We will do what we can to minimize the impact on the community," said Mary Ann Lee, managing director of the Health Services Agency. "We will be stretched thinner."

With the county facing a $20 million deficit, its 27 departments were ordered to reduce spending by 9 percent; 11 are resorting to layoffs. In the past three weeks, supervisors agreed to terminate 86 employees, including 52 in the Sheriff's Department.

The county spends more than $23 million on public health each year; its revenue, mostly from federal and state taxes, is expected to shrink by $2.5 million this year.

Supervisors this evening will be asked to fire the county's 27 physicians in training and their residency program's three staff members. But they will be rehired by the program's replacement, a consortium of the county and its two largest hospitals.

The Valley Family Medicine Residency Program, which becomes official July 1, was created to capture federal funding that was suddenly cut off last year. The program recruits doctors to the area and serves 70,000 to 80,000 low-income residents each year.

The county's yearly contribution typically is $750,000 to $1 million, representing its share of the difference between costs and federal reimbursements. Its partners in the consortium, Doctors Medical Center and Memorial Medical Center, will share in future spending.

In other action, the county sent about 20 notices to owners of farm-zoned property when neighbors began complaining about illegal truck parking in 2008, a report reads. Since then, owners and truckers have been negotiating with officials to develop new rules.

A proposal would allow as many as 12 tractors with no more than two trailers each on parcels of at least an acre. Truckers could not unload trailers, and maintenance would be limited to oil and tire changes and other minor repairs.

The rules don't address buses, pickups, tow trucks, delivery trucks or fleet vehicles. Farm trucks would be exempt.

Today's meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the basement chamber at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto. The agenda is at www.stancounty.com/bos/ agenda/2010/Ag05-18-10.pdf

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson contributed to this report.

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at gstapley@modbee.com or 578-2390.

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