The economic Grinch didn’t steal Christmas for Barrow County government employees, at least this year.
Christmas will continue to be a paid holiday for employees of Barrow County’s local government after the board of commissioners removed a controversial proposal to save money from the agenda Tuesday night that would have made the holiday an unpaid day off.
With scores of employees packing the Barrow County Board of Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday night, BOC chairman Doug Garrison announced that the board would not be voting on a cost-saving plan recommended by chief administrator Keith Lee.
Garrison said that the majority of the board would be new in January and that those newly elected officials should be making the decisions about how to handle the more than $2 million in projected deficits recently announced by Lee and CFO Beth Horacek.
When he asked for a motion to remove the political hot potato from the agenda, every commissioner at the meeting spoke up.
“I heard four firsts,” Garrison quipped as laugher erupted in the audience.
Garrison said after Tuesday’s meeting that in addition to the newly elected commissioners, all other elected officials need to be consulted and that county employees need “input and clarity” before decisions are made.
Department heads met Nov. 18 to discuss ways to cut expenses, but only two elected officials other than Garrison and Lampp were at that meeting. They were chairman-elect Daniel Yearwood and outgoing district attorney Rick Bridgeman.
Chief magistrate June Davis said after the meeting that she came prepared to advocate for employees in her department, as well as for employees in other departments.
Based on the size of the standing-room only crowd in attendance, Davis estimated that 80 employees showed up. She said she has been surprised both by the scope of the budget problem explained by Lee and Horacek and by their recommended actions.
“There are many things we can do before we furlough employees or take away their holidays,” Davis said.