OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department of Health is planning to lay off about 250 employees, or 12 percent of its workforce, early next year amid a cash crunch at the agency.

Employees at the department were notified of the reduction-in-force plan via email on Wednesday.

Department spokesman Tony Sellars says it’s not entirely clear how the funding shortfall occurred, but he says it’s unrelated to budget cuts as a result of declining legislative appropriations.

He says the agency has asked the state auditor’s office to conduct a special audit to examine its finances.

Sellars says it’s likely most of the layoffs will happen at county health departments in communities across the state, although a final decision on which positions will be cut hasn’t been made.