County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a hiring freeze and recommendation to lower jurors’ pay by $10 per day in efforts to help balance its upcoming budgets.
The freeze will mean any currently vacant positions will be left unfilled until at least September. Any positions that open from now until that time also will remain open unless the commission grants a waiver.
The freeze is one measure to help save operating costs related to personnel. The county also has reduced two full-time positions to part time and eliminated other positions, which, including the freeze, affects a total 24 positions and is expected to save $873,272 in employee-related costs.
The county is installing several changes to make up an estimated $2,235,804 gap in revenue to expenses for its 2013 fiscal year and balance its upcoming budget. Other measures include changes to employee health coverage that includes raising premiums and deductibles, and increases in some fines and fees.
The commission approved another cost-saving measure Tuesday, a reduction in “per diem” pay to jurors from $35 to $25. However, the grand jury has to make the final approval on the measure, an irony that County Commission Chairman Ricky Wolfe struck on.
“This is semantics: why would the grand jury approve cutting its own pay,” Wolfe asked.
Assistant County Manager Tod Tentler responded, with some humor in his voice: “Because they are good, civic people.”
Tentler said the move would save $12,000 to $18,000 annually.
During its meeting Tuesday, the commission also held its first public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2013 budget, which stands at a balanced $38,238,809, including the $2.2 million in proposed cuts. About three dozen people attended the meeting, but no one spoke at the hearing.
The commission is expected to approve the budget at a June 26 meeting.
In other business Tuesday, commissioners approved a deal with Hogansville for the county to handle all building inspections and permits in the city. The county has worked with Hogansville in the past for furnishing inspection services, but now all permits and inspections inside the city will be made through the county.
The fees for services will be the same as for residents in the unincorporated areas and all fees will be collected and retained by the county. County Manager Mike Dobbs said Hogansville is poised for growth, so the deal would be a financial benefit to the county.