Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Upcoming Clatsop County Budget Axes Several Staff Positions

Monday, April 23, 2012

Clatsop County proposes to eliminate several staff positions in its upcoming budget in the face of rising costs, limited revenue and reduced service needs.

The proposed 2012-13 fiscal year budget, released today, cuts three fulltime and one half-time positions and leaves two vacant jobs unfilled.

The cuts are proposed in order to close an estimated $500,000 gap between county departments’ original requested budgets and revenue forecasts for the upcoming year.

The projected budget shortfall is the result of several factors, including a 15-percent increase in health insurance costs and contracted cost-of-living salary increases for staff. These and other increases would boost spending next year by close to 3 percent under the county’s current staffing levels. At the same time, property tax revenue is forecast to grow by just 2 percent.

Proposed to be cut are:

· One cartographer position in the Assessment and Taxation Department

· One administrative support position in the County Clerk’s Office

· One clinical services manager in Public Health Department

· 0.6 FTE (fulltime equivalent) administrative support in Assessment and Taxation

In addition, two currently vacant positions – emergency services manager and a parole and probation officer – are proposed to be left unfilled.

At this time all cuts are proposed and subject to approval by the county budget committee and board of commissioners. The budget committee is scheduled to review the budget May 8.

The proposed 2012-13 budget totals $54,801,500, compared to $60,102,992 in the current year.

“These financial times pose challenges, although Clatsop County has not been impacted as severely as others,” County Manager Duane Cole said. “With the careful allocation of resources, we’re maintaining vital county services with the available funds.”

The staffing reductions would take effect at the beginning of the next fiscal year, July 1. But employees in the four affected positions were notified March 23 of the proposed cuts. Because of rules in the union contracts covering those positions, the affected employees may have “bumping rights” to move to other positions in the county, depending on seniority.

Most of the proposed staff cuts were targeted at departments where activity has slowed as a result of the economic recession. The construction slow-down has led to a drop in property-related work and document-recording in Assessment and Taxation and the Clerk’s Office.

The Public Health clinical services manager position was proposed for elimination due to continued reductions in federal and state funding for health-related services.

The budget proposes to add one FTE in the Community Development Department by expanding a planner/code specialist position into two fulltime positions, one devoted solely to planning and the other to code enforcement. The demand for code enforcement has remained constant despite the construction slowdown, and the recent establishment of a planning overlay for the Arch Cape community has added additional design review duties for the department. Half the increased cost would be covered by the General Fund and half by the fee-supported Building Codes budget.

The board of commissioners is scheduled to vote on this staffing increase at its April 25 meeting.

In addition, the budget proposes that a half-time, non-management emergency services coordinator position be increased to fulltime, to partly cover the vacant emergency services manager post.

Along with the personnel cuts, department heads also have identified a total of $938,592 in savings in materials and services, equipment replacement and other areas in their respective 2012-13 budgets.

In the previous two years the county has cut or left vacant 12 positions, including two management posts.

Spending decisions are guided by the board of commissioners’ budget policies, which prioritize county services for funding and include, among others, the following guidelines:

· No new staff positions or programs unless specifically approved by the board of commissioners;

· Money saved during the year to be carried over to the next budget year;

· No “back-filling” or replacing lost state or federal dollars with county funds.

The complete proposed 2012-13 budget is viewable on the county website, www.co.clatsop.or.us, and copies will be available to view at public libraries in Astoria, Cannon Beach, Seaside and Warrenton, as well as at the Clatsop County Manager’s Office, 800 Exchange St., Suite 410, Astoria.

Released by:Tom Bennett
Community Relations Coordinator
(503) 338-3622

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