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JOB FAIR TO EASE PAIN OF LAYOFFS

A county-sponsored event bring hope for some of the workers laid off last week.

Ninety-eight Pasco County employees lost their jobs last week. But a number of them could find more government work.

County officials are sponsoring a job fair for their laid-off workers Monday at Veterans Memorial Park.

Employers who are looking to hire and scheduled to appear include Pasco County, which has more than 60 job openings created as commissioners have restored some services they originally planned to cut.

Other employers who plan to attend include the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Pasco County School Board, Hillsborough County, Polk County and the City of Tampa. Dial America and Career Central will also be at the fair.

"We're trying to get them job openings in the county," said personnel director Barbara DeSimone. "We're trying to get them jobs outside the county."

The laid-off workers' last day is Oct. 9.

The layoffs, which make up about 4.5 percent of the county's workforce of 2,160, are a result of budget cuts to help deal with a $35-million shortfall and an effort to streamline government operations.

The workers who take care of Pasco County buildings and parks took the biggest hit when pink slips went out.

Of the 98 employees who lost jobs, 34 work in facilities and 23 in parks and recreation. Other departments that lost workers include communications, information technology, elderly nutrition and zoning.

Eliminated jobs include secretaries, food service aides, painters, plumbers, carpenters, park attendants and customer service specialists.

Officials decided to eliminate 14 employees based on the "retention matrix," a new point-based system that ranks workers based on seniority, performance, disciplinary action, certifications and military veterans status.

The matrix differentiated among employees with the same job title and department.

Employees can begin applying for open county positions now, said DeSimone.

Those open positions include maintenance positions, library "shelver," custodian, surveyor, electrician and assistant director of the Office of Management and Budget.

DeSimone said the county will go outside to hire for some of those jobs but expects most of them to be filled by current employees.

Monday's fair will include information on government and charity assistance programs as well as money management.

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

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