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Travis County’s mental health authority could get money from Central Health to offset staff cuts

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — At a Central Health Board of Managers meeting Wednesday, members could vote to shuffle roughly $7 million in funding from its reserve fund to Integral Care — Travis County’s largest mental health provider — in an attempt to offset recently announced staff cuts.

The amendment to Central Health’s budget, which is expected to be voted on Wednesday, comes from former Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen who now sits on both the Integral Care and Central Health boards.

“I anticipate that Central Health will give appropriate consideration to this immediate issue. I encourage the Board of Managers to support this need now,” Mayor Kirk Watson posted in his latest newsletter.

To remedy a roughly $22 million shortfall in federal and state funding next fiscal year, Integral Care is slashing nearly 10% of its staff positions, some of which are vacant, a board meeting Thursday revealed.

The Integral Care board signed off on a budget Aug. 31, which includes eliminating 115 positions. Of those positions, 48 are filled positions and 30 are program services positions, staff said Thursday.

Some people may be offered the opportunity to shuffle into vacant positions, staff said in a board meeting Thursday.

Integral Care provides resources for people with mental health illnesses, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to its website. Those resources include crisis services — such as the operation of the region’s 988 call center — along with counseling and case management, drug and alcohol treatment and housing services.

Watson said in the long-term he’s working with stakeholders to figure out how to stabilize Integral Care’s budget and work on long-term plans specifically for people who are homeless.

“There will be other issues going forward, of course, but these need current and pretty urgent attention,” the mayor wrote.

Central Health is the health care district Travis County voters chose to fund in 2004. Travis County Commissioners will also need to sign off on the Central Health budget before it becomes finalized.

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