South Carolina government departments and agencies continue to struggle this year with budget cuts, anticipating even deeper cuts next year.
The Department of Consumer Affairs this year has had to cut back its consumer outreach programs. The department followed a 15-day furlough for all employees in 2008 with layoffs of 24 employees in 2009, leaving only 35 workers. This year, five positions were not filled after employees retired. Remaining employees will take another 10-day furlough.
Department Administrator Brandolyn Pinkston says dealing with everyday complaints is getting harder and harder, due to the increasingly complex nature of mortgage issues. The department has relaunched its mortgage fraud hotline because of the number of mortgage complaints. Pinkston says an outreach program that staffed Consumer Affairs offices in many counties for the past five years has been suspended, and the department has also suspended its consumer inquiry chat line.
Pinkston wants to reassure the public that the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs is still there for them.