April 22, 2011
Facing a budget realignment of historic proportions, Monterey County plans to eliminate 250 staff positions. Though no layoff notices would be issued until early June and the proposed budget will not be released until next month, at least some departments will announce the plans to their departments later today in anticipation of the layoffs taking effect.
The county faces a $29 million budget gap, and plans to make up $20 million of that difference through personnel cuts. Nearly half of the county's revenue comes from state and federal resources, so as California braces for Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed $12.5 billion of cuts, the effect is trickling down.
"In many senses, we’re experiencing the 2007 recession in its full force, because governments lag behind the private sector," says Lew Bauman, county administrative officer. Between the expiring vehicle license fee, reduced property tax revenue as the housing market stays weak and federal and state cuts, "It’s the perfect storm."
The Department of Social Services is expected to be among the hardest hit in the proposal, where 60 workers could receive pink slips this summer. As the department that serves as a safety net for the jobless, those workers may be in a position to avail themselves of their own services.
As a public entity, the county is not required to issue WARN notices (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor), which advise workers in advance of layoffs. However, the nearly two-month lead time is intended to give affected employees time to plan and search for new jobs.
There's still a chance that the county could find a way to cut expenditures elsewhere, as they have in the past even when layoffs were proposed. But, "At this juncture, unfortunately we’re left in a situation where we have to work with our labor negotiators," Bauman says.
The county approved the creation of a new Economic Development Department on March 1, which will bring the Housing and Redevelopment Department and the Workforce Investment Board under one central roof.