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Pasco County matrix system to determine who gets laid off

Say Pasco County follows through with layoff plans next year. How will administrators decide exactly which employees get pink slips?

With math.

County officials have developed a "retention matrix," which uses a point-based system that ranks workers based on seniority, performance, disciplinary action, certifications and veterans status.

Two-year employee? One point. Fifteen years? Three points.

Got an "exceeds expectations" on your last evaluation? Seven points.

Got a "needs improvement"? Minus three points.

Military veteran? One point. Disabled veteran? Two points.

The matrix would be used to differentiate among employees with the same job title and department who are competing for a limited number of positions. Highest total points means you stay, the lowest means you might go.

Employees got their first glimpse of the proposed layoff policy late last week, and County Commissioners will take it up at their meeting Tuesday in Dade City.

County personnel director Barbara DeSimone said officials devised the point system based on similar ones used by other counties.

Months ago, each county department came up with a list of positions that could be cut to help deal with what is now estimated to be a $34 million deficit. That financial hole consists mainly of a $23.7 million shortfall in property tax revenue if commissioners were to keep the same millage rate.

Preliminary proposals put 260 positions — almost 125 of them filled — on the line. The ranks include firefighters, animal shelter workers and code enforcement officers.

Pasco County has never used a "matrix" system before when making layoff decisions, DeSimone said.

Since 2008, the county has laid off about 50 workers in the building inspections and permitting divisions, although many of them found other jobs with the county, DeSimone said. Only seniority was taken into consideration in those layoffs, which were the first in 26 years.

But as county officials have worked through the LEAP program — an initiative aimed at paring costs and running departments more efficiently — consultants have had a rallying cry of "getting the right people on the bus," said DeSimone.

"We're getting as close as we can to rewarding good job performance," she said.

An explanation of the policy that went out to workers last week made clear that officials do not want accusations of favoritism to play into the mix.

"Instead of just eliminating vacant positions and making do, we would like departments to analyze what the right organization would be with permanent budget revisions," the memo said. "Decisions must be based on operational needs and not favoritism. The intent is to prudently restructure division/work units to be as efficient as possible under the budgetary constraints the county is currently facing."

DeSimone said she hadn't heard much negative reaction to the approach.

But she is hearing that some employees are upset about what the creation of such a policy means: Layoffs are a reality.

"I think the whole fact that we're looking at this is of concern to employees," she said.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Fast facts

How points add up

Some examples of how points are calculated for the "retention matrix" include:

• Two-year employee: One point. Fifteen years: Three points.

• For an "exceeds expectations" on your last evaluation: Seven points.

• For a "needs improvement": Minus three points.

• Military veteran: One point. Disabled veteran: Two points.

Pasco County matrix system to determine who gets laid off 07/07/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 9:12pm]

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