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Utah State Developmental Center must trim $1.5M from budget

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AMERICAN FORK — The Utah State Developmental Center is tightening its belt.

After cuts made during this year's state legislative session, the Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities, which runs the facility, is working to shave $1.5 million off the center's 2010-11 budget by July 1.

No residents will be moved out of the center at 895 N. 900 East, but the cuts could mean a reduction in services and layoffs for some employees.

"The most important thing to understand is that we're not reducing any beds at the developmental center," said division director Alan Ormsby. "We may do some consolidation of certain apartment buildings, but we won't be reducing the number of people served."

Ormsby also said there will be no freeze on admissions at the center.

While the number of residents will remain the same, the services they receive will be cut back.

"We don't want to make any long-term changes to services, but we are going to have to reduce some of the services that are offered down there," Ormsby said.

Hydrotherapy pools and animal therapy are among the services that likely will be put on hold for at least a year, he said.

The center also may outsource some of its services to professionals in the private sector, said center superintendent Karen Clark.

"The Legislature asked us to look at opportunities for privatization, for things that could be done by private business entities in the community," Clark said.

The center may have to release some of its staff. Though the Division of Services for People with Disabilities has introduced retirement incentives for developmental center employees, there is a "strong likelihood that staff will be reduced," Ormsby said.

"Our hope is that through retirement incentives and attrition we'll be able to reduce the staff somewhat," he said, "but there is a possibility that we'll have to do a reduction in force."

The developmental center is an intermediate care facility for people with mental retardation. Its budget cut came as part of a $25.7 million reduction in funds for the Department of Human Services. The center's budget was cut by $2 million, but the Legislature backfilled it with $500,000 in one-time funds. If the backfill is not repeated next year, the center will have to cut an additional $500,000 from its 2011-12 budget.

Ormsby said the reductions were "just part and parcel of the major cuts that the Legislature had to deal with" and said the Legislature treated the center fairly. Nevertheless, he said, the budget cuts will be tough to implement.

"Given the very difficult budget circumstances that the Legislature had to confront, it's going to be a challenging environment," Ormsby said. "Overall, we're going to make sure that people's needs are protected, and we're going to make sure people are safe and healthy."

e-mail: jritter@desnews.com