Summit County lays off 10 government employees | AspenTimes.com

Summit County lays off 10 government employees

Caddie Nath
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. – Summit County commissioners announced the elimination of 19 county positions, resulting in 10 layoffs, Wednesday afternoon.

Positions eliminated included that of assistant county manager of community services Steve Hill, along with the facilities director, engineering/solid waste director, social services director, road and bridge asset supervisor, building inspection office manager, systems administrator, community corrections coordinator and engineering permit technician.

“These were trusted, valued, devoted, hard-working folks. It’s hard to see them go,” said County Manager Gary Martinez.

An additional nine positions, left vacant this year, will not be filled this year or next. The county also reduced weekly hours for four other employees, and the long-range planning manager position was converted to a senior planner.

With a budget picture that continues to look gloomy, Martinez said the county is looking at eliminating additional positions, which could result in future layoffs.

“There are other areas we have begun investigations on, looking at how things might be handled differently. I wouldn’t rule it out,” Martinez said.

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The layoffs followed a recommendation for $635,000 in operational cuts and $1.35 million in personnel cutbacks the county staff presented to the commissioners Tuesday afternoon.

There will be a total of $4.5 million in budget cuts across county programs in 2011.

“It was evident that county government could not continue to operate in its current form and fundamental changes, however unfortunate, were necessary,” Commissioner Thomas Davidson said in a press release.

The cuts came in response to steep declines in tax revenue for the county in recent years. Sales tax collections fell an additional 10 percent this year after a historic 18 percent drop in 2009, and property tax revenue is expected to decrease about 20 percent in 2012.

“We have a fairly substantial budget and revenue problem to address and the sooner, the better,” Martinez said when asked about the timing of the layoffs.

Martinez said decisions on which positions would be eliminated were made based on a restructuring of staff positions and duties and were not related to performance.

The responsibilities of the eliminated positions will be redistributed among remaining staff to ensure the county continues to function effectively.

The cuts are meant to “flatten the organization,” and “position [it] for the future,” according to a statement released by the county Wednesday.

All the employees who were let go will receive severance packages, including salary and benefits based on the length of their service.