BROOKSVILLE — Staring down the barrel of a $4 million-plus revenue deficit, the County Commission this week took aim at a two-page list of vacant county jobs to be filled, totaling $1.8 million in compensation.
Hiring during this time of drastic services cutbacks and staff furloughs generated some controversy several weeks ago when Commissioner Jeff Stabins questioned why the county was preparing to fill a vacant library coordinator position.
At about the same time, the county was also sending layoff notices to nine employees. County Administrator David Hamilton has frozen all hiring.
When administrative services director Cheryl Marsden presented the list to the commission Tuesday, she explained that the majority of the 40 positions weren't paid for by the general fund, which is the shortfall that most concerns county officials.
Half of the jobs were in the utilities department and the rest were in other so-called "enterprise funds'' that raise their own revenue and pay their own expenses, she said.
"Some of these are very much in need of being filled,'' Marsden told the board. "We're crippled in purchasing.''
Earlier in the meeting, Commissioner Wayne Dukes pointed out another job on the list that needs filling — the county building official position. Land services director Ron Pianta said he's close on filling that job.
Hamilton said there are reorganizations under way in utilities and public works.
"We're trying to fill what we need in a very, very cautious manner,'' he said.
"By and large, most (of the vacant positions) are not being filled,'' Hamilton said.
Dukes said that he wasn't concerned about what fund paid for the salaries. He said he wouldn't approve any new hires unless the openings would cause a public safety concern or a work stoppage. He asked for a list of the vacant positions that need to be filled for those reasons.
Stabins backed him up on the idea of getting a breakdown.
Earlier this year, budget manager George Zoettlein trimmed 18 positions out of the budget for 2011-12, jobs the county didn't intend to fill.
All of those positions were in the general fund and that list included the job of longtime parks and recreation director Pat Fagan, a code enforcement supervisor and an assistant county attorney position.
The total savings for cutting those positions netted $648,743.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.