The local Idaho Department of Labor office at 141 Citation Way in Hailey will close in mid-August. The office serves job seekers, businesses and those seeking to apply for unemployment insurance.

The closure is part of a plan underway to close nearly half of all the walk-in job service offices in the state, cutting the number from 25 to 11.

Labor Department Director Jani Revier said she developed the new model for more “flexibility.” She said it would not cut any employees or drop any services provided by the state.

“Accountability to Idahoans is at the heart of this model,” Revier stated in a press release. “It features more people providing better access using fewer taxpayer dollars.”

The closest Idaho Labor Department office, in Twin Falls, will remain open. Job services previously provided in the Hailey office will become part of a new “decentralized model” using shared location space and occasional staffing. The new job service location could be at a library, non-profit organization or state or county office, Revier said.

Revier said she will announce later where the new job service office location will be along with hours of service.

“We will launch a campaign to let people know where to find us,” she said.

Office hours will be reduced from five days a week to “at least one day a week” with online services available from anywhere.

The Idaho Press reported on Monday that when former Gov. C.L.

“Butch” Otter’s administration proposed in 2016 to close half the local job service offices in the state,

lawmakers on the Joint Finance-

Appropriations Committee “balked

amid concerns from rural communities and persuaded the administration to back off the move.”

Revier said in an interview that the new plan is being implemented to keep the Idaho Department of Labor competitive enough to win federal grants associated with the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, grants that she said will go to open bid for the first-time next year.

The grants would help support department operations.

“This is our year to prepare and

become competitive,” Revier said.

Revier said the U.S. Department of Labor budget has been reduced by 47 percent in the last ten years, and that newly revised Americans with Disabilities Act requirements will make permanent Department of Labor offices more expensive to maintain.

Revier said the Idaho Department of Labor’s $6 million budget for job service offices would see a “catastrophic loss of funding” if the grants are not won.

She said many other organizations are expected to compete for the funding, including the Salvation Army.

Revier said that while staffers track the number of people served through the Hailey office, they do not track the number of people who walk into the office for services.

The new decentralized model is unproven, yet Revier said she is optimistic that it will succeed.

She said office closures will save money, but new computer equipment and additional travel expenses will add to costs.

“This is an Idaho model,” she said. “We are not fashioning it off a model from elsewhere.”

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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