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Berkeley Co. announces layoffs

December 11, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- The Berkeley County Commission on Thursday adopted a work-force reduction policy and delayed an expected vote on layoffs for at least a week.

The policy adopted applies to county employees who work in departments under the direction of the County Commission. It does not apply to the sheriff, county clerk, circuit clerk, assessor or prosecuting attorney.

As of Thursday, 49 full-time employees would be subject to the policy, according to the commission's human resources director Alan J. Davis, who presented the policy to commissioners. There were 252 full-time county employees as of Thursday, Davis said.

"This is something that we do with much reluctance," Davis said before explaining how affected employees would be eligible for unemployment compensation and given priority consideration for other county jobs up to a year after the layoffs take effect.

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"Certainly, the budgetary issues that we are facing are not unique to Berkeley County," Davis said.

Commissioners said last week that five or six employees would be cut and Davis said Thursday that four positions in the planning, engineering/inspection and facilities departments, and the County Commission office would not be filled.

Davis later confirmed that the 49 employees subject to the policy included four who have been working in data processing in Circuit Clerk Virginia M. Sine's office.

Sine said Thursday that she has supervised the data processing staff since the first employees arrived in 2002. Sine said she also made subsequent hiring decisions for the positions, which she said should be included in her budget not in the commission's general fund.

Last week, commissioners declined to specify what departments under their supervision would be reduced in size in an attempt to slice into a projected $1.5 million deficit.

Davis was directed to identify jobs that could be eliminated within the county's planning, engineering, data processing/IT and facilities departments. Commissioner Ronald K. Collins' said the county's 911 Central Dispatch and Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management were not being considered.

County Planning Department GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Coordinator Matthew T. Mullenax, who announced his resignation last week, told the commission Thursday that his position could be left vacant without crippling the county's efforts to provide GIS data to various agencies.

All three commissioners praised Mullenax for his efforts to advance the implementation of GIS in the county, which Teufel said would be "indebted" to him for years to come.

County Administrator Deborah Hammond said the 2007-08 budget was reduced by $4.2 million in order to balance the books by June 30.

The commission in November sliced $556,344 from the planning department's budget. Hammond said after the meeting that the commission has direct budgetary control over slightly less than half of the county's budget; the other elected constitutional officers' share is about $14 million.

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