(SALEM) - The jobs of some Washington County employees are in jeopardy in the wake of an order from the Department of Government Finance that the county reduce its proposed 2013 budget by $329,000.
Marcia Walker, of the Leader Democrat, reports, that's the bad news that was waiting for the county commissioners and members of the county council when the two groups held a joint meeting last week.
David Hoar, president of the council, says eliminating 9 1/2 positions would reduce the cost of personnel by $303,578, although the county has to pay unemployment claims so not that much would be realized in savings. Tom Scifres, attorney for the county commissioners, says for each position cut, the county would only save about one-third of the position's salary because of paying unemployment.
Among the positions that are being scrutinized are third deputy positions in the clerk, auditor and treasurer's offices; a second deputy position in the recorder's office and a first deputy position in the assessor's office. Also being considered is eliminating an assistant court reporter position and part-time clerical position in the budget for circuit court; a third deputy position in the county surveyor's office and an investigator's position in the public defender's office.
The council also discussed eliminating the $5,000 the county pays to both the Circuit and Superior court judges on top of their salaries that are paid by the state.
The council did find some places to trim dollars, including $179,000 that had been earmarked for mental health which the county had been using as a sort of safety net. Also under consideration is reducing by $10,000 the $90,000 that supports operations at Delaney Park and an election budget that totals $26,600 since there is no election in 2013.
Council members decided department heads are the ones who need to make the decisions, although they acknowledged that the decision to reduce personnel will ultimately fall back on the council.
The council discussed other options as well, including employees taking days off without pay and even closing the courthouse one day a week. Scifres said that would be difficult because of circuit court.
Hoar suggested department heads work as a group to trim dollars and save positions.
The next meeting of the county council is 9:30 a.m. Feb. 4, in the government building on Martinsburg Road.
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