The state is closing its Workers’ Compensation Board Service Center on State Street in September, part of an effort to save millions by consolidating offices and reducing staff, officials said.
The center at 328 State St. is one of 11 centers to be closed over the next two years. Its two hearing judges will move to other facilities, said Brian Keegan, spokesman for the state Workers’ Compensation Board.
Hearings scheduled at the State Street center will be held at the nearest hearing site, Keegan said. Service centers in Albany, Glens Falls and Utica will remain open, as they are not part of the board’s consolidation plan, he said.
“Special care was taken to make sure no claimant will have to travel more than 50 miles to reach a board location,” Keegan said. “It is our hope that any disruption felt by either employees or claimants will be minimal.”
The state plans to close one service center each month through November 2009. The next nearest center scheduled to close is in Oswego, set for November 2009. The closures will leave the state board with 18 service centers.
Keegan said the state hopes to save $6 million over the next 10 years through the consolidation, mostly through reductions in its staffing and in overtime and through better use of technology.
The board will reduce staff through attrition, Keegan said. The reductions will total around 40 positions, leaving the board with approximately 1,500 employees.
“Gov. [David] Paterson has required every agency to submit a plan with 3 percent staffing reductions,” Keegan said.
The Schenectady service center is primarily used to hear appeals to claims the state has denied, Keegan said. The center hears approximately 2 percent of the 300,000 appeals statewide.
Keegan said the board’s consolidation plan does not involve a reduction in services, just a consolidation of offices. He said the board based its decision on facility use and cost analysis.
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