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Rural clinics’ budget short because of errors

More than $483,000 will be added to the rural Clinics Community Mental Health Centers budget, the Nevada Board of Examiners decided Tuesday.

The shortfall was caused by “inaccurate methodology used for estimating potential outside revenues.” Program administrator Larry Buel told the board the agency built its budget based on its number of full-time employees instead of projecting outside revenues based on the actual caseload.

As a result, revenue fell $846,510 short in fiscal 2004 in client fees, Medicare, Medicaid and third party insurance payments and could be as much as $961,151 short for fiscal 2005 in a budget of only $10.4 million a year.

The agency was able to make up more than $360,000 of the difference by holding positions vacant and reducing other expenditures.

Gov. Kenny Guinn, who chairs the board, agreed there were “no other places to go except for reduction in force and reduction in services.” He said the agency will have to keep some of those positions vacant again next year.

If they do so, the board was told, the agency should be able to save more than $440,000. But rural clinics will still have to come back for more than $500,000 to balance its fiscal 2005 budget.

Guinn said his primary concern is that the error isn’t repeated. Buel assured him the upcoming budget will project those revenues based on caseload figures from the rural clinics.

The rural clinics provide psychiatric services, counseling, community based services and outpatient care throughout rural Nevada. They also provide emergency psychiatric services to local jail facilities in those areas.

The board also approved an extension of the contract with Clark County’s Economic Opportunity Board, despite that board’s mismanagement of state money this past year. The grants in question are for child care services in Clark County. Guinn said the board wants to ensure that the money goes to child-care providers.

Welfare Administrator Nancy Ford said her agency will monitor the expenditures and disburse funds month by month.

“We do not give them the full $9 million,” she said.

She said the Economic Opportunity Board deposited a $2.1 million advance last July into the wrong account, then spent it. The Economic Opportunity Board is paying the state back at $300,000 a month.

Finally, the board doubled the Department of Motor Vehicle’s revolving cash account to $120,000. Administrative Services Officer Dennis Colling said the money will be used to support new DMV registration and licensing kiosks being installed around the state.

The kiosks allow people to perform simple registration renewals and, soon, drivers’ license renewals and other basic transactions at a machine similar to a bank ATM. Because the kiosks deal in cash, the department needs authority to have more cash on hand to service them.

Contact Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750