A cost-saving plan proposed by Barrow County Board of Commissioners Chairman Danny Yearwood was sidetracked Tuesday night after questions were raised about its impact on employees and on the public’s safety.
At its first meeting as a new board, the BOC voted unanimously to postpone action on reducing employee hours a total of 18 hours per month until after a called meeting sometime next week.
The BOC did approve a resolution allowing the chairman to move county employees among departments on a day-to-day basis as the workflow requires.
But the board delayed votes on two possible plans – one by Yearwood to reduce hours and another by newly-elected District 3 Commissioner Steve Worley to instead reduce pay on a sliding scale. Yearwood’s plan would reduce by half the projected budget shortfall of $2.5-$2.7 million. Worley’s plan would reduce it by a fourth.
Sheriff Jud Smith was the only person who addressed the issue during the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting. He said his employees are in life-and-death situations and that their safety would be jeopardized by furloughs that would force him to keep at home seven employees per day.
“I understand we’ve got to do something, but I believe this would be putting citizens in jeopardy and putting my employees at risk of being injured, maimed or killed,” Smith said.
When the cutbacks were addressed at the end of the meeting, county attorney Angie Davis presented three resolutions: One on day-to-day staffing changes and freezing salaries and hiring; one on Yearwood’s plan for a reduced workweek and monthly furloughs; and one on Worley’s proposal to cut wages and salaries.
DuWayne R. Anderson
01/16/09 at 06:43 AM
Jud's assessment is correct, and I support him 100%.Reduction of working hours for Safety, Fire and EMS services should be a last resort by the BOC. These public servants protect our lives and property from crime,fire, and natural disasters.When you or your family has an emergency, their response can be the difference between life and death for any citizen of this county.If you don't think that these services are that important,then I suggest you contact the nearest mental health care professional and schedule a appointment to be evaluated.
As a county taxpayer, I believe that other areas should be explored such as elimination of all overtime hrs. for all employees.Temp. salary reductions for top county managers, and voluntary pay cuts by BOC Chairman Yearwood, and Comissioners. In addition, Barrow County Human Resources should be directed to audit all positions in the county to determine if the hrs.for each dept. are being used to their fullest capacity,and report the findings to Chairman Yearwood. If deficiencies are uncovered, then they should be corrected.
It is clear that maximum accountability has come to Barrow County and it's employees,and the BOC has the task to enforce that accountability. The question is, will Mr. Yearwood make the tough choices vs. the easy ones?
Until next time...................
DuWayne R. Anderson
Now that is funny...have the HR department audit all positions. I guess you would have foxes guard your hen house too. Remember Mr. Yearwood has said he plans to take a pay cut.....also Mr. Yearwood can only execute what the commissioners approve by way of voting. Once the vote is in there is no doubt Mr. Yearwood can execute the plan.
BTW - how did we get in this mess in the first place? Oh I know, purchasing land and building department infrastructure with absolutely no thought of the economy turning south and letting county reserves dwindle dangerously low.
In the paper copy of the BJ, there was an article about the past due taxes. The BOC is having to cut hours to make up an approx 2.5M shortfall, while the county has let some tax payers so far behind there is an approx 1.9M in past due taxes to the county.
Had the county been collecting these taxes then maybe, just maybe, the current BOC wouldn't be in the position of having to cut hours or jobs.
I understand that they tax office is FINALLY starting procedures to seize and sell properties at auction.
My question, why did it take so long? Some of these delinquent taxes are three years old.
I think the BOC needs to take a real hard look at the tax office and the Tax Commissioner. It seems to me Ms. Williams hasn't been doing her job. She should have been on top of the unpaid taxes.