As part of statewide money-saving measures, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services will close its Fort Scott office within the next several months, Public Information Officer Rachel Whitten said.
The 30 people who work in the office in Fort Scott will be reassigned based on service needs in the areas served, but Whitten said where they will be relocated has not been decided yet. There are no staff lay-offs associated with the office closures, a news release said.
Whitten said the closest offices to Fort Scott are in Iola and Pittsburg. The closure will take place sometime in the next several months, she said.
Among the considerations for selecting offices for closure were caseload size, proximity to other SRS offices, and the ongoing focus on providing services in the most cost efficient means possible, the release said.
During the 2011 session, the legislature directed SRS to cut $42 million from its all-funds budget, including $1 million in administration costs for fiscal year 2012. To meet that reduction in administration, the agency is also reducing cell phone use and other expenses, and looking for ways to find additional efficiencies, the release said.
"The legislature told us to find savings, and we have identified a way to achieve those savings while still providing exemplary services to our beneficiaries," SRS Secretary Rob Siedlecki said in the release.
Fort Scott City Manager Dave Martin said he did not know about the plan until Friday. He said he and state Sen. Bob Marshall, R-Fort Scott, are trying to prevent the closure from occurring.
"I am working with Sen. Marshall and my first reaction is to try to keep it from happening. I am working with the owner that SRS rents from now and trying to get facts and figures as to why this decision was made," and trying to understand the economics of it, Martin said.
The current office structure was established in 2003-'07, when SRS closed 61 of its 106 local offices.
SRS beneficiaries served by the affected offices will see no disruption in services, the release said. As staff and casework is reassigned, customers will be notified of how and where to contact their assigned caseworkers.
Siedlecki and his team are working to establish leadership teams and draw boundary lines that will make up the four newly formed regions, the release said.
Beneficiaries may contact any SRS office to inquire about services, can apply for services online at www.srs.ks.gov, and in many cases can contact their caseworker or manage services over the phone or online.
All the communities in which offices will be closed have public libraries that provide Internet access to the public. SRS also maintains Access Points, where individuals can receive informational materials and traditional hard copy applications for assistance:
* Coffeyville: The American Red Cross, Coffeyville Public Library, Four County Mental Health Center, and Genesis
* Fort Scott: The American Red Cross, SEK-CAP Family Services, and Tri-Valley Developmental Services
* Garnett: Garnett ECKAN, SEK-Multi Co. Health Dept..
* Lawrence: The Community Health Facility, the Lawrence Public Library, the Lawrence Workforce Center, Healthcare Access, and the United Way Center for Human Services
* Lyndon - Burlingame City Hall, Burlingame Community Library, Melvern City Hall, East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation (ECKAN) Center (Osage City), Osage City Library, Resource Center for Independent Living, Inc. (Osage City), Overbrook Library, Quenemo City Hall, Scranton City Hall
* Marysville: Twin Valley Development Center (Greenleaf), Highland Haven (Hanover), United Bank & Trust (Linn) , First National Bank -- Washington, Washington County Courthouse, and Washington County Health Department
* McPherson: Dillons No. 6, McPherson County Health Department, and McPherson County Food Bank
* Pratt: First United Methodist Church, Cannonball Trail Chapter, Southwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging, Pratt Christian Food Bank, Pratt County RSVP, Pratt County Courthouse
* Wellington: Sumner Workforce Center, Sumner County Regional Medical Center, Futures Unlimited, St. Francis Academy, and Wellington Food Bank.