More Human Services Cuts

    Come January, the East Hampton Town Department of Human Services will lose two part-time social workers who work with senior citizens, along with a part-time homemaker and a “community relations assistant.”
    At a meeting on Dec. 8, the town board voted to abolish the positions, and the 2012 Human Services Department budget does not contain salaries for the posts.
    Yvette M. Morouney, one of the two social workers, expressed concern recently about what would happen after the termination. “I’m concerned about the seniors,” she said, “who really are conveying to me how they need these services.” She said she and her colleague each took care of 19 clients, and made $23,000 a year. The employees were notified about their termination at a meeting on Dec. 5 with Diane Patrizio, the head of the Human Services Department.
    A full-time case manager will remain on staff, Ms. Patrizio said last week. “A lot of their work was taken up with data entry,” she said of the two social workers who are leaving.
    The addition of clerical staff who will take up that task will enable the case manager to take care of more clients, she said. “We will still be servicing the same amount of people we did before, just in a different fashion,” Ms. Patrizio said.
    “Our numbers have gone down a bit; this is just a response to that,” she said. “Services will continue, just in a more efficient fashion.”
    In addition, she said, the department also has a full-time Spanish-speaking case manager who will be assigned to work in tandem with the other manager. However, the town board also last week approved a leave of absence for a Spanish-speaking case manager with the department.
    Cuts to the Human Services Department staff have been ongoing. Last year, a free after-school program was cut, and staff were trimmed from the senior nutrition and counseling programs. An agreement with the Family Service League was fostered to have that organization provide some services to town residents in exchange for a low-cost lease on a town building for league offices.
    Eleven positions in the department were vacated last fall when staffers, including the longtime department head, Edna Steck, took advantage of a retirement incentive program.
    After an outside firm hired by the town issued a report criticizing recordkeeping and other procedures followed by the department, Councilman Dominick Stanzione, the board liaison to Human Services, asserted that there was room for improvement at the department, and that, with increased efficiency, it could operate with les