Proposed county budget shows the loss of five jobs
SUMMIT COUNTY – Five Summit County employees will lose their jobs, six vacant jobs will be abolished, raises will be limited to a maximum of 4 percent, and virtually every department will have to cut expenses under the proposed 2003 county budget.
County Manager Ron Holliday made the first public presentation of the budget during Monday’s county commissioners meeting. About 40 people – the majority of them county employees – sat in on the power point presentation, which did not allow for public input.
The budget is set to be adopted Dec. 9, and several public hearings are scheduled through then.
The bad news in the budget wasn’t a surprise. County commissioners announced in July that, because of falling sales tax revenues and building permit fees, budgeting would be difficult. The county also was hit hard by rising health insurance costs and a dramatic increase in claims during 2002.
In August, Holliday directed all of the county’s department heads to come up with a zero-based budget – which means figuring what each department would need to open its doors and get up and running.
Holliday said Monday he had to cut $1.7 million from the $46 million budget.
“We can’t decrease the budget by almost $2 million and not feel some pain,” he told the commissioners, adding later he did not find “rampant waste” within the current operation.
In addition to the elimination of 11 jobs – six of which are currently vacant – Holliday said all departments made cuts.
“The cutbacks are pretty widely spread,” he said. “With very few exceptions, everybody tightens their belt some.”
Among the five people who will lose their jobs are a receptionist, an engineering technician, a planner and two undetermined positions within the environmental health and GIS departments.
“I was thrilled the list is as short as it is,” Holliday said. “I was fearing earlier in the year the list would be much longer – 20 or more. That doesn’t make the news any easier to swallow (for those five).”
Currently, the county employs 466 people. Those workers still will be eligible for raises in 2003, but the increases will be limited to a maximum of 4 percent, according to the proposed budget.
Holliday said the proposed budget is balanced, with revenues exceeding expenses by about $300,000.
It is not “all gloom and doom,” he said.
“Implementation of this balanced budget will continue to provide high-quality services to our citizens, it will maintain county assets in good condition, it will address the need to look to the future in planning, communication and inter-agency cooperation … and hold its own in attracting and retaining good employees,” Holliday wrote in a letter to the commissioners.
At the same time, he wrote, it follows the commissioners’ direction “for a more disciplined approach to financial management,” Holliday said.
Holliday encouraged employees and the public to come to the public hearings and the worksessions taking place through Dec. 9 to talk about the budget, saying there would be “no ill will or repercussions if anyone wants to come forward and talk.”
While Holliday presented the budget, it’s the commissioners’ job to approve the final document. In a year of harsh cutbacks, Holliday said that’s not an easy task.
“I’ve talked to no one who envies the position the board is in now in having to make these difficult decisions,” he said.
Copies of the budget will be available in all three Summit County libraries by this evening, according to county staff.
Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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