The county Board of Commissioners will vote on Feb. 16 to make temporary reductions in the many of the benefits county employees have received. Employees will no longer receive cost-of-living-allowances, longevity pay, and holiday pay for the ten county holidays including the $30 Christmas pay. Also, employees will no longer receive the deferred compensation retirement match of 5 percent.
“It is awful,” said board Chairman Alvin Long. “I have been awake for two nights worrying. Any-time you make decisions that affect a person and the way they take of their family, it’s awful.”
County Administrator Randy Dowlng said county government officials had monitored the climate of the local economy very closely for the past year and projected revenue figures indicated a decline in the 2010 fiscal budget.
The decision was based on previous revenue receipts and projections and revenues and expenditures from the past two years. Dowling said that revenue from sales taxes, interest income, and building permit fees dropped dramatically in the last year.
“We’re not out of money now, we still have a health reserve. But in order to save those reserves we have to make cuts somewhere,” Dowling said.
The benefit cuts will affect more than 330 people, but will save the county an estimated $1.3 million.
“This is a decision we did not want to have to make,” Dowling said.
The reductions will go into effect on March 1, but county employees were notified this past Wednesday.
The county did issue an official media statement, citing the cuts a preparation for next year’s budget, county officials predict further revenue declines in the area of sales tax, interest income, building inspection fees, and grant funds.
“Surrounding counties began furloughing employees a year ago, we were able to avoid that,” Dowling said.
The Board of Commissioners have also agreed to reduce their annual compensation by 5 percent.
“The county’s fiscal condition remains strong and these temporary reductions were extremely difficult for the Board to enact but necessary. Our main concern was that we kept all county employees working and providing for their families with their health insurance unchanged. These cuts will make it possible for the county to get through this economic situation that has been devastating to most other counties,” Long said.
Dowling said that officials will reevaluate the county’s revenue, and should the economic situation improve, many of benefits would be reinstated.