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County jobs on the ropes

3 layoffs to be considered today, another dozen for 2010

Brandon Gee

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners could decide today which county employees will lose their jobs as part of ongoing budget cuts. The commissioners also will consider whether to abandon a countywide furlough plan adopted in April.

At an 11 a.m. hearing in the commissioners’ third-floor hearing room in the historic downtown courthouse, Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan will recommend that three county positions be eliminated because of a reduction in workload resulting from the economic downturn.

County officials would not disclose Monday which positions are being considered for elimination. Sullivan said he wanted to make sure department directors have notified the affected employees first. If the layoffs are approved, the employees would be placed on paid administrative leave through Aug. 15, per the county’s personnel policies.

Routt County is facing a $5 million deficit in its 2009 budget. There have been cuts in personnel, operating and capital costs already – including a 10 percent reduction in pay countywide – but the projected deficit still stands at $1.1 million. The three positions, if eliminated today, would save the county an additional $53,000 this year and $166,000 next year.

Commissioner Doug Monger said the layoffs being considered today are intended to “eliminate the idle hands.”

“Now, what we’re trying to do is what we’re calling right-sizing the government,” Monger said. “Any further cuts we have will have to be tied to service levels.”

“You have less money, you provide less services,” Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush added. “That’s really what it is.”

Layoffs in the Routt County Regional Building Department are being handled separately because it is fee-supported. Last week, the commissioners approved layoffs of an electrical inspector and a plans examiner, and they eliminated a seasonal position that had been left open.

Also today, Sullivan will recommend that the county leave open 10 positions through 2010 that have been either frozen or not filled. By not filling those positions, the county is saving $417,000 in 2009 and would save $617,000 in 2010.

Sullivan also hopes the commissioners will eliminate a county furlough plan that was enacted to reduce county employees’ hours 10 percent to match their pay reduction. Sullivan said furloughs are not sustainable and have impeded his ability to determine which departments are overstaffed.

“The furlough policy is directly impacting our ability to lay off people,” he said.

The commissioners also will be asked to provide direction on the formation of a 2010 budget. To balance next year’s budget without the use of cash reserves, the county would have to leave the 10 percent pay reduction in place and eliminate about a dozen more positions. That’s what Sullivan will recommend.

“It’s the best step for us to sustain the budget into the future,” he said.

Other options to be presented to and considered by the commissioners include reducing the countywide pay reduction to 5 percent and laying off fewer people, both of which would require using cash reserves to make up the projected deficit.


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