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Job losses likely for Walworth County workers

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
August 6, 2009

Several Walworth County employees could lose their jobs in 2010 as county officials scramble to close a $1 million budget gap.


County Administrator Dave Bretl said he might recommend cutting up to 10 full-time equivalent positions to reach the county's base budget. The $1 million gap is caused by the rise in expenses to keep the county's current level of services, which exceeds a 2.9 percent tax levy cap.


"Our payroll is the biggest percentage of our budget and the biggest driver of costs," Bretl said.


Despite likely job losses, the number of position cuts Bretl is considering is lower than it has been in recent years.


Walworth County's FTE cut was 34.7 in 2006, 21.9 in 2007, 26.7 in 2008 and 16.5 in 2009. Since 2005, the county has dropped from 971.56 FTEs to this year's 871.62, a reduction of 99.9 FTEs.


Still, Labor and Employee Relations Director Suzi Hagstrom said personnel cuts are getting to a point where they can "definitely impact the services we provide."


"Ten is better than 20, absolutely," Hagstrom said. "The problem is that when we get lower and lower with our FTE count, we're getting to where there's no more room (to cut)."


And as the economy worsens, requests for county services tend to increase, Bretl said.


"More people need economic support, help with child support, and the jail population sometimes is tied to the economy," Bretl said. "At a time when we want to try to lower taxes, the demand for services is as high as we ever see."


The county's current workforce consists of 779 full-time employees, 96 part-time employees and 269 casual workers. One FTE is the equivalent of a full-time employee working 40 hours per week, but it could be divided in two or more part-time positions.


Bretl said he will meet with county officials in the coming weeks to explore alternatives to further personnel cuts and to finish closing the $1 million gap. He is expected to present the proposed Walworth County budget to the county board Tuesday, Sept. 8.



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