Proposal being floated to consolidate Genesee Justice with county probation
In an effort to close a significant budget gap, the Genesee County Legislature will be asked to look at eliminating Genesee Justice and moving its services to the County Probation Department.
Genesee Justice provides a variety of services, including supervising accused criminals released from jail, as well as some convicted drunken drivers, and assisting victims of crime.
County Manager Jay Gsell said in the 17 years he's been with the county, Genesee Justice has gone from a program funded entirely by state grants to one that now has $237,000 in unfunded expenses.
The county is a looking for a way to cut that expense in an effort to trim $7.5 million from the proposed 2011 budget.
"We know what services Genesee Justice delivers and we know how it is delivered," Gsell said. "What we're looking at is how can we deliver that same level of service to the community through the probation department."
Ed Minardo, director of Genesee Justice has some concerns about whether the same level of services can be maintained.
He said he's working on an information campaign to help decision-makers understand all that Genesee Justice does and exactly what's involved in delivering the current level of services.
"I'm concerned," Minardo said. "We've been here 30 years. I want to ensure that this is a carefully deliberated decision."
Under the proposal -- which Gsell says is very preliminary -- about seven-and-half positions in Genesee Justice would be eliminated and three positions created in probation.
The Children's Advocacy Center, which employs two people, would remain under the supervision of the Sheriff's Office, which currently oversees Genesee Justice.
Gsell said the change could eliminate administration and overhead costs, but it still needs further study.
Minardo said that in 2009, Genesee Justice supervised 419 people assigned to community service; and 518 people in Genesee Jail were screened for possible release under supervision; and 245 accused criminals were released and supervised by Genesee Justice.
The number of victims helped by Genesee Justice is not immediately available.
The county budget hearing is at 6 p.m., Nov. 17 in the county courts facility.