Pitkin County aims to hire furloughed workers
Pitkin County commissioners Wednesday cleared the way for the county to be able to temporarily hire local furloughed federal employees during the government shutdown.
“I’m really proud of Pitkin County for stepping up and doing this,” Commissioner Patti Clapper said.
The idea is “to assist in helping a limited number of the workers who reside in our local communities to obtain temporary, on-call employment … with Pitkin County to assist them in being able to pay the cost of their mortgages and other expenses,” according to the emergency resolution passed unanimously by commissioners.
The partial federal government shutdown began at midnight Dec. 22 and is affecting about 800,000 federal workers. Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock noted that those workers will miss their second paycheck Friday if the shutdown continues.
“(This is) an opportunity for us to leverage the expertise now sitting on the sidelines, and provide some much-needed cash for people who are furloughed,” Peacock told commissioners.
Wednesday’s emergency resolution — which goes into effect immediately rather than the usual two-week waiting period — temporarily waives county personnel policies governing selection and recruitment of employees, according to the resolution. Federal employees have already gone through that vetting process, so the county can now bring them on quickly, Peacock said.
County officials have been able to identify 12 to 13 furloughed U.S. Forest Service employees in the area, though Peacock did not have estimations of local federal employees from other agencies.
So far, the county has earmarked eight positions that could be filled by furloughed federal workers, including five at the airport, one community outreach person in the county’s Community Development Department, a mechanic job in the county’s fleet division and a planner in the Open Space and Trails Program, Peacock said.
Workers in those jobs will make between $20 and $25 an hour, he said. Interested federal workers must show up to the county’s Human Resources Department in person, present proof they are a furloughed federal employee and fill out streamlined paperwork, Peacock said.
The local chapter of Habitat for Humanity also is offering limited positions to furloughed federal workers, while the airport has provided or will provide food for Transportation Security Administration employees, he said.
Clapper said she plans to bring Pitkin County’s resolution authorizing the hires to an upcoming meeting of other Colorado governments and encourage them to do the same thing.
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Pitkin County administrators are proposing a more than $142 million budget for 2020, which is about $6 million less than this year because of fewer construction projects and capital improvements.