Pitkin County lays off two after agreement canceled
Pitkin County laid off two Health and Human Services employees this week after Eagle County officials canceled an agreement between the two governments, an official said Thursday.
The two employees, who will continue on the job until the end of the year, helped provide services to endangered, neglected and abused children and adults in the El Jebel area, which is in Eagle County, said Nan Sundeen, director of Pitkin County’s Health and Human Services Department.
Eagle County has contracted with Pitkin County since 2012 to provide those services under an intergovernmental agreement, she said. In exchange, Eagle County pays Pitkin County $200,000 a year, Sundeen said.
Pitkin County will continue to provide those services to endangered children and adults who live in the county, she said. Eagle County canceled the agreement because it wants to have a presence in the El Jebel area and be able to provide those services, Sundeen said.
Eagle County officials also canceled a separate agreement that provided support to people in Pitkin County who need economic assistance from the federal government, she said. Because Eagle County is larger and already had a sizable staff to provide those services, Pitkin County agreed in 2008 to allow Eagle County to take over those services for Pitkin County residents in exchange for $320,000 a year, Sundeen said.
However, that caseload has grown from 150 cases in 2007 to more than 1,300 now, she said, and Eagle County officials could no longer handle them.
Now, Sundeen said she must quickly set up an economic assistance department at the Pitkin County Health and Human Services Building near Aspen Valley Hospital. Exactly how much that will cost has not yet been determined, though she said she’s hoping it will be about the same as the $320,000 the county currently pays.
County residents who receive economic help in the form of Medicaid, food or child care assistance should not see a change in services, Sundeen said. That money comes from the federal government, though a local person must process applications, she said.
The only difference will be the closing of an economic assistance office in El Jebel, Sundeen said. People will have to travel to Aspen for such services after Dec. 31, she said.
The economic assistance caseload increased so greatly in just eight years mainly because the 2008 recession lowered people’s incomes, though Obamacare also played a role, Sundeen said.
A phone message Thursday seeking comment from Eagle County was not returned.
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