‘It’s just overwhelming’

From left, center, Brown County Commissioners Tony Applegate, Daryll Gray and Barry Woodruff review agenda items during Monday’s meeting. Sarah Prebble, clerk, is pictured on the left.

Employees with the local Department of Job and Family Services are overwhelmed, according to its director.

Brown County commissioners heard about the department’s struggles from David “Mitch” Sharp, the department’s Brown County director, during his update to the board about personnel Monday morning.

Sharp said each case worker has approximately 600 cases. He said the expansion of Medicaid has added to the workload.

“It’s just overwhelming,” Sharp said.

Sharp said the department is “OK” the next couple of years, but funding from the state is expected to decline. He said reimbursement from the federal government is high and could still offset the decrease from the state.

Sharp said if funding decreases too much, though, the department would not replace a person if he or she leaves.

“Which exacerbates the caseload,” said Commissioner Barry Woodruff.

“Yes,” Sharp said.

Woodruff said Hamilton County’s JFS has a 40-percent turnover. Sharp said that caseloads are high “wherever you go.”

“It is such a grind. It never stops,” Sharp said. “The best day you have is Saturday because on Sunday, you’re thinking about Monday morning.”

Sharp said two employees are resigning, one is taking leave and two employees are retiring soon and are expected to be rehired at a lower rate of pay than what they’re currently making.

During Wednesday’s commissioners meeting, the board approved the hiring of two individuals to replace the ones which resigned. Sharp said he’ll bring two more folks in other positions for the commissioners’ approval in the coming weeks.

In other business on Wednesday, commissioners received a letter from their attorney, John Woliver, that stated Judge John Kessler will likely affirm the commissioners’ decision that $4,000 should be the fee paid to Brown County Coroner Dr. Judith Varnau’s attorney for his work in her appeals case.

Woliver stated in the letter Kessler wants to see if there were any agreements in place in the case.

Thomas Eagle is asking for $18,000 for his work on Varnau’s appeal.

Reach Lora Abernathy at 937-378-6161, ext. 1843 or on Twitter @abernathylora.