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Oklahoma Laying Off 75 at Homes for Mentally Disabled

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The Department of Human Services cut 75 jobs at the states two resource centers for mentally disabled Oklahomans. The Department of Human Services cut 75 jobs at the states two resource centers for mentally disabled Oklahomans.

Associated Press

ENID, Oklahoma -- Seventy-five employees at two state homes for the mentally disabled will be notified shortly that their jobs have been eliminated.

Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid and Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley provide care and housing to about 280 residents with mental disabilities, mobility problems and trouble feeding and caring for themselves.

According to Sheree Powell, spokeswoman for the Developmental Disabilities Service Division of the state Department of Human Services, state budget woes led to the job cuts. The department is facing a shortfall of $34.6 million.

This fiscal year, 259 positions were targeted out of nearly 1,000 jobs at the two facilities, and 85 people took a buyout. About more 75 occupied positions must be reduced. The other positions to be eliminated are unfilled.

None of the positions being eliminated provide nursing or direct care to patients, Powell said, but will instead be administrative or maintenance jobs like plumber or electrician.

In November, employees received an information package about the buyouts. The offer included 18 months of insurance for employees, the next longevity payment, a half-week's pay for each year worked or $5,000, whichever is greater, and annual accumulated leave. Employees were given 45 days to consider the buyout offer.

"Once we found out who took the buyout, we had to evaluate how many positions will still need to be eliminated," Powell said. "We are evaluating exactly what positions still must be eliminated. We anticipate about 75 positions that need to be eliminated between the two facilities. They are still working on the exact numbers."

She said officials should know more details by Friday and will notify employees in about two weeks.

"We do want to assure people (that) the care of the residents at the facilities is our main concern and we are preserving it," Powell said.

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