The department, known as NOVA, is funded through federal, state and foundation sources with the primary funding coming from federal Workforce Investment Act funds. In December, Congress and President Bush agreed to cut $300 million for the program.
To deal with the reduced federal funding, NOVA in February began closing on Fridays. However, the decline in federal money coupled with an expected decline in state funds because of the state's budget deficit means the organization could not continue at its current staffing levels, according to NOVA Director Mike Curran. "With this reduction in staffing resources, combined with our increased demand for services, NOVA's next challenge will be to redesign and re-engineer our programs to continue to be relevant to the needs of our job seekers and businesses," Curran said in a statement.
The 18 laid-off staff members are all permanent city employees.
They will be given approximately three months of paid health care coverage following their layoff, according to the city announcement.