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Employee cuts revealed

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

A list of positions affected by budget cuts was released by Newton County late Thursday afternoon.

Of the nine employees who are affected, all but one was voluntary, said Chairman Kathy Morgan. Two vacant positions will not be filled and one employee will see a reduction in hours.

Public works is taking the brunt of the cuts, losing three employees and leaving two positions vacant. A new inventory parts clerk will be hired for that department, however. Mechanics have previously handled inventory but with two leaving, assistance will be needed. The position will be a lower pay grade than the mechanic positions that were cut, Morgan said.

The Recreation Department will not replace its special events coordinator, who retired recently; another staff member will take over those duties. The planning department, solid waste, human resources and animal control each lost one employee. The county's special projects coordinator will see a reduction from 40 hours to 32 a week.

Administrative Officer John Middleton's position is included in the list, though Morgan said that was not part of budget considerations. Middleton tendered his resignation to Morgan on July 11 saying he wanted to be part of voluntary lay offs to allow him to spend more time with family and pursue other opportunities. He notified the board Tuesday night.

Morgan said employees nearing retirement age or considering other opportunities voluntarily gave up their positions rather than see colleagues with more need displaced.

"These people are dedicated to the county and loyal to their friends , the other employees. They took a difficult time and made it less difficult," she said.

Four employees who volunteered to be laid off were turned down because their positions were deemed critical and they would have to replaced immediately, she said. By law, none of the positions can be filled for the remainder of the budget year. Morgan said it will be up to remaining staff to fill the void.

"I have great department heads. They will step up," she said. Those department heads have worked hard to cut in other areas so jobs could be saved, she added. About 75 county employees have been laid off during the last three budget years.

"The first year we cut some fluff and there were some critical positions too. Last year we cut down to the bone. This year I'm in the marrow and that bone is going to be brittle and break. I don't think people understand how tight this budget is going to be," she said.