By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — At a board meeting Monday, Cleveland County commissioners discussed cutting funding to Crossroads Youth and Family Services, the contractor that runs the county’s emergency youth shelter.
County Commission Chair Rod Cleveland said he believes the $225,000 line item should be stricken from the county’s budget. Commissioner Rusty Sullivan said the discussion was not appropriate for the BOCC.
“This is a budget board issue,” Sullivan said.
The county’s budget board is comprised of all the elected county officials. That board would make the final decision on any budget cuts.
“We have been very grateful to the county since 1969,” Crossroads Executive Director Lisa Winters said in a phone interview. “I hope we can find a way to continue this partnership, because, without the partnership we have with the county, we cannot keep the shelter running.”
Cleveland County owns and maintains the youth shelter building while Crossroads pays rent.
“We pay them minimal rent because we paid for our share of the building when it was built,” Winters said. “The county owns the building. We paid the Cleveland County authorities to help pay our part of the debt. The money that we do pay (for rent) goes to help pay for upkeep and maintenance.”
Winters said county maintenance is primarily exterior needs like a roof or heating and air conditioning repairs. Crossroads uses donations to pay for interior improvements like carpeting and furniture.
“About three years ago, we spent $60,000 to completely gut and renovate the kitchen,” Winters said.
In the commissioners meeting, Cleveland said other counties allow the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs and the Department of Human Services, which pays for beds in the facility, to provide full funding.
He said Crossroads bills OJA and DHS for its funding and the county is not in the charity business.
Cleveland also said it is possible that the county would bid out the service to see if it can be done less expensively.
“We do not get any money from DHS to run the shelter,” Winters said via phone. “We have two primary funding sources for the operating costs of the shelter — OJA and the county.”
Winters said 80 percent of the budget is staffing.
“We’re a private nonprofit,” she said. “Those are employees of Crossroads, but we contract with the county and OJA for the funding, and the county is critical. We come from the position of total gratitude to the county.”
Winters said Cleveland County and OJA have provided the stable funding source needed to operate.
“We serve about 300 children a year in the shelter,” Winters said.
While most of the children are elementary age or teenagers, in some situations, the shelter still takes in infants and toddlers.
“We’ll always take the children law enforcement brings us,” Winters said. “We serve a lot of children who are in the foster care system and their placement breaks down. It’s an emergency shelter. They come and stay until another placement can be found.”
The shelter also serves chronic runaways and situations involving police intervention such as domestic abuse.
“Our population are the abused, the neglected, the runaways,” she said. “The shelter is that place for in-between when there is nowhere else for the children to go or for in a crisis.”
The average length of stay is about eight days, but some children stay for a couple of months, Winters said.
“We have a lovely shelter in Cleveland County, but it takes everybody to keep it running,” she said. “For what they invest in it, there is a huge benefit for Cleveland County. I am very grateful for the county’s investment. The children live there; it’s their home.”
In other county business, County Clerk Tammy Belinson introduced new Human Resources Director Shelley Raney.
Undersheriff Rhett Burnett reported there are 402 prisoners currently housed at the F. DeWayne Beggs Detention Center. Of those, 121 are Department of Corrections prisoners with 109 having already received judgment and sentencing.
County commissioners approved the following blanket purchase orders:
· District 1 — Moyers Factory Warehouse, $1,000; Fred’s Tire & Battery, two at $4,0000 each; Certified Laboratories $1,155
· District 3 — Noble Farm & Building $1,000, Dolese Brothers Company $1,499; Copelin’s $500
· Commissioners Office — Copelin’s $500
· Health Department — Eureka Water Company $400
· Sheriff’s Office — Aramark Correctional Service $25,000 and $38,000, Standley Systems $1,200, Elizabeth P. Jones $10,500, Jennifer Walker $9,000
County commissioners approved the following purchase orders: General Fund $36,886; Highway Fund $31,607; Health Fund $16,537; Sheriff Service Fee Fund $1,890; Sheriff Commissary Fund $14,067; Sheriff Revolving Fund $1,906; and Treasurer Certification Fee Fund $1,827.
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