The Pasco Hernando Workforce Board will make significant budget cuts next year due to funding decreases.
The board helps unemployed residents by matching employers with job seekers, and it expects to see an 18.67 percent decrease in revenue in the 2013-2014 fiscal year because of a drop in federal funding. Hernando and Pasco county commissioners approved the budget earlier this month.
Jerome Salatino, chief executive officer of the workforce board, said the budget cuts will lead to staff layoffs, and he estimates between 15 and 20 positions will be cut. He said the board's welfare transition program would likely be hardest hit.
"I think the level of service is definitely going to be affected," he said.
The workforce board helps about 120,000 people a year, and he estimates about 70,000 of them are Pasco County residents.
"That's a significant percentage of the population," he said.
The budget reduction will also lead to some office locations being closed, and the board's mobile career center will be out on the street less often.
"You've got to have people on the ground to be able to work with the customers," he said. "It's going to make it more difficult to give that quality of service that's necessary."
John Hagen, president of the Pasco Economic Development Council, said the council works with the workforce board. Hagen said they planned to create a more robust workforce development strategy, but legislators changed funding during the last legislative session.
"I know they're struggling because they were operating at a certain level, and now they've got less money to work with," he said. "I hope it doesn't affect it as dramatically as I fear, but there will be an impact."
He said the board provides practical services such as transportation and day care for workers getting back on their feet, and a decrease in funding will hurt the people who need it most. "If the program's not there, there will just be more people back on the unemployment and welfare rolls," he said.
Hagen said the council partners with the board, local government and the business community to make sure Pasco has a good workforce. When the workforce agency's budget is cut, he said, it affects that group effort.
"I think it cuts the effectiveness of our overall effort here," he said. "We're not going to give up, but it makes it harder."