Island County to cut 30 jobs

Island County will cut approximately 30 jobs to bring next year's budget in line, county officials said Monday.

The county will finalize the cuts on Dec. 1 when the 2009 budget is adopted. About 15 or so employees will be laid off, effective March 1, and 10 other unfilled positions will remain unfilled as the county tries to bridge a nearly $2 million budget gap.

The amount to be cut comprises roughly 10 percent of the general fund, the part of the county budget that pays for basic government services such as police protection, parks, public health and other departments.

"If you don't have the money, you don't have the money," said Commissioner Mac McDowell.

Though some department heads have suggested ways to trim costs from the budget — putting off the purchase of new patrol cars for the sheriff's office, for example — McDowell said some ideas would not appear to have the long-term impact the county hopes to achieve.

"That's why I'm hesitant to accept one-time changes. I'm sure this is going to be more than one year's recession," he said.

County leaders met in an emergency budget workshop today to look at possible cuts. The proposed staff reductions include two sheriff's deputies, a deputy prosecutor and 8.5 positions in the planning department.

The layoffs were not a surprise to some. Commissioner John Dean and Budget Director Elaine Marlow visited department heads on Friday to warn them of the staff reductions.

"It will have an impact on services," McDowell said, but he added that he expected funding for the court system to remain largely intact.

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