County to merge Social Services Board to create efficiencies and savings
(Woodbury, NJ) - In a move to consolidate services and save at least $465,000 annually, the Board of Social Services will be merged into a county division. Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney, Freeholder Helene Reed and Freeholder Frank J. DiMarco announced the cost savings measure today that will be phased in over the next several months.
Freeholder Director Sweeney stated, "There will be no change in the services or programs that the clients of Social Services receive, this is an administrative move that will save over $465,000 and consolidate purchasing, payroll and other administrative functions that both the county and Social Services now perform."
The immediate savings will be derived mainly from combining the health benefits and prescription coverage that is offered to the Board of Social Services' 167 employees. Due to the size of the county's workforce a savings of $207,700 annually will be realized by adding the Board of Social Services employees into the county's plan for health benefits and prescription plan. Both the county plan and the Board of Social Services plan are identical in benefits provided.
"Health benefits costs have been escalating for every government in the nation, it is a cost that we are constantly working on during budget time. There is an opportunity for the county to reduce this cost by bringing this group under our coverage without any change of benefit to the employee or any disruption of service to the clients," Sweeney stated.
The net health benefits savings of $207,700 will be immediate. The remainder of the year would be utilized to complete the transition of the Board into the county government.
Additional savings will be realized by consolidating the purchasing, payroll and other administrative functions of the Board of Social Services with the county. Further savings are anticipated through contract negotiations. The county aims to balance out the terms and conditions of employment for employees of similar rank, responsibility and seniority.
"Nine other counties have successfully merged their Board of Social Services into their county government with positive results," stated Freeholder Helene Reed. "When you can consolidate services and ultimately save taxpayer dollars without affecting the delivery or quality of services you must take advantage of the opportunity," Reed stated.
Hunterdon, Essex, Morris, Warren, Monmouth, Atlantic, Union, Hudson and Sussex Counties all have merged their Board of Social Services within their county government.
Under this merger, there will be no change in service. The Board of Social Services would operate in the same location with the same staff and deliver the same services as a county division rather than a board.
Gloucester County has had success with merging and consolidating several departments within the county resulting in cost savings and better coordinated services to its residents. In the past several years the county has merged the Office on Aging into the Health Department creating the Department of Health and Senior Services, and it merged the Office of the Disabled into the Department of Human Services.