County Administrator Kelly Pehrson said the cuts are painful, but are necessary. “The county was using its cash reserves to balance the budget,” said Pehrson.
After lowering the number of employees through attrition and combining positions, the Commission recently approved a Reduction in Force (RIF).
The RIF eliminated two positions, Building Inspector and Fire Marshall, that have been held by some of the most senior employees in the county. The RIFs will become effective on March 1.
Fire Marshall Rick Bailey has been a county employee for 29 years, including 28 years as county administrator. Bailey has been a fixture in county governance and emergency response situations for nearly three decades.
Commissioners hired Kelly Pehrson to replace Bailey as county administrator in March, 2013. Since that time, Bailey has served as the Fire Marshall / Emergency Response Director.
County officials state that Bailey’s responsibilities will be absorbed by a number of county employees.
Bruce Bunker has been the county building inspector for eleven years. Prior to that, he worked as the County Assessor, an elected position that he held for 13 years.
The Building Inspector position was created in 2002, after Bunker was defeated in an election for County Assessor by Howard Randall. Bunker is a licensed appraiser and inspector, which are licensures that no other county employee or elected official possessed at the time.
Since that time, county employee Greg Adams has secured the licenses. Adams will assume many of Bunker’s responsibilities.
Pehrson reports that the number of building permits issued by the county decreased over the years, from about 100 in previous years to about 40 or less in recent years.
In addition to the RIF cuts, there are two fewer positions in the road department because of attrition. Employees who left were not replaced.
Funding for roads has been impacted by a number of factors, including lower property tax revenues, and decreased federal funding due to Sequestration, cuts in PILT payments and budget cuts for school bus routes.
In addition, the county eliminated a position by combining full-time positions in the Clerk’s and Assessor’s offices into a single position.
Officials state that more positions may also be eliminated through attrition. Commissioners approve all new hires by county government.
In addition to the cuts, the county hired a broker to manage the county benefit package, a change that has resulted in a six percent decrease in benefit costs.