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Catholic Charities loses funds for City Hall receptionist

Catholic Charities Maine will no longer pay for a full-time position in Lewiston City Hall that has been handling General Assistance clients, as well as refugees and other clients serviced by CCM.

Catholic Charities lost the ability to pay for the full-time position because its funding for refugee case management was not approved for the next fiscal year. The City of Lewiston and Catholic Charities will now split the cost of a part-time position.

“The part-time receptionist position is currently not included in the city’s budget,” Deeputy City Phil Nadeau stated in a December 15 memo to the city council. “It is, however, necessary to have this position on at least a part-time basis since it handles much of the walk-in traffic that comes to the office and schedules appointments for applicants to be seen by caseworkers.”

The cost of the position will be covered through the 50-percent contribution by CCM and the amount that CCM will pay the city for continuing to lease space in City Hall.

Although the position will be reduced to part-time, city officials said there has been no reduction in the number of refugees or other General Assistance clients who are seeking services.

In 2005, city employees who were paid from Office of Refugee Resettlement funds that supported the Portland-Lewiston Refugee Collaborative Project located at City Hall became the employees of Catholic Charities Maine. CCM assumed all costs for the refugee case management program.

“Additionally, CCM also paid all costs associated with the receptionist position in the Social Services Office, who handles General Assistance clients as well as those serviced by CCM,” Nadeau stated.

But CCM has been notified that Office of Refugee Resettlement funding for refugee case management has not been approved for the next fiscal year. “The termination of this funding—which has been awarded to this program for the last eight years—will necessitate that CCM reduce its program and staffing at City Hall,” Nadeau stated.

That staffing reduction will result in the elimination of the full-time receptionist position as of January 31, 2011. The cost for the full-time receptionist position is about $35,000.

Social Services Director Sue Charron and CCM have been in negotiations to work out alternative accommodations for the program. Nadeau outlined the proposal:

CCM will pay the city $11,000 a year for the lease of space for three employees on the third floor of City Hall and will continue to assume all costs associated with their operations (phone, IT, photocopying, etc.).

CCM will share the cost of a half-time (19.5 hrs) receptionist for Social Services.

The estimated pay for the position will be $14 per hour with no benefits. The receptionist will continue to handle scheduling for both General Assistance and CCM clients.

Approximate value of the lease to the city will be $18,100 per year.

The lease period will cover February 1, 2011 through January 31, 2012. The lease may be terminated with a six-month notice, and standard lease provisions will apply.

Nadeau told the council that no immediate action was required at its December 20 meeting. “However, if this proposal is acceptable, we will be seeking council approval of the lease agreement with CCM and for a budget adjustment to recognize the revenue we will receive from the lease and contribution toward the receptionist position and the expenses associated with that position,” he said.

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