County to cut nine em­ploy­ees

The Covington News - - Front Page - Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­news.com

New­ton County must cut nine em­ploy­ees and two va­cant po­si­tions in the $44.28 mil­lion bud­get the board of com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved Tues­day. One worker will have a re­duc­tion in hours.

The board ap­proved the per­son­nel moves in ex­ec­u­tive session Tues­day.

The loss of Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer John Mid­dle­ton, who an­nounced in a sep­a­rate move that he will re­sign ef­fec­tive Dec. 15, counts to­ward the nine po­si­tion cuts. Mid­dle­ton was one of 10 em­ploy­ees to vol­un­tar­ily re­tire this year, though Chair­man Kathy Mor­gan said he was not a bud­geted cut.

Be­cause of fed­eral law re­gard­ing bud­get re­duc­tions, his po­si­tion can­not be re­hired dur­ing this fis­cal year. Chair­man Kathy Mor­gan said she and depart­ment heads will sim­ply have to pick up the slack.

Pub­lic works will lose three em­ploy­ees, two me­chan­ics and an equip­ment op­er­a­tor and will cut two va­cant truck driver po­si­tions. The driv­ers had left ear­lier in the bud­get year.

The other cuts in­clude a plan­ning em­ployee, land­fill equip­ment op­er­a­tor, hu­man re­source spe­cial­ist, an­i­mal con­trol of­fi­cer and re­cre­ation spe­cial events co­or­di­na­tor.

Mor­gan said all of the cuts but one were vol­un­tary re­tire­ments. As of Thurs­day af­ter­noon, she did not have a to­tal bud­get sav­ings, but noted that the county will be re­spon­si­ble for pay­ing any un­em­ploy­ment. In ad­di­tion, the board of com­mis­sion­ers agreed pre­vi­ously to give each re­tir­ing em­ployee eight weeks of pay.

The county’s net tax di­gest de­clined by 8 per­cent this year to $2.17 bil­lion, as prop­erty val­ues de­clined for the third year. The tax di­gest is the value of all land, build­ings, equip­ment and mo­tor ve­hi­cles in the county.

As a re­sult, tax rev­enues are ex­pected to de­cline 7.95 per­cent to $23.7 mil­lion.

In other county news, the board ap­proved tak­ing out a $1.4 mil­lion tax an­tic­i­pa­tion note from J.P. Mor­gan Chase, the low bid­der, at an in­ter­est rate of 0.94 per­cent.

New­ton County has to bor­row the money be­cause it doesn’t have enough re­serves to cover op­er­at­ing ex­penses dur­ing the few months of this fis­cal year be­fore prop­erty tax rev­enues be­gin to ar­rive in Oc­to­ber.

County gov­ern­ments are de­pen­dent on prop­erty taxes for much of their rev­enue, but prop­erty tax bills are gen­er­ally not mailed un­til the fall. As a re­sult, coun­ties have to de­pend on re­serve fund to cover op­er­at­ing ex­penses from July through Septem­ber, or take out a low-in­ter­est loan.

The note must be re­paid be­fore the end of the year. It’s the first tax an­tic­i­pa­tion loan the county has had to take in a hand­ful of years, said Mid­dle­ton.

Fa­vor­able in­ter­est rates are com­mon tax an­tic­i­pa­tion notes, be­cause they are short-term gov­ern­ment loans.

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