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2007-10-31 News

County employees return, but for how long not known
Five-member committee appointed to review each department

Chris Adams
October 31, 2007
Crawford County employees laid off in September were recalled last Thursday, but how long they will remain on the job is uncertain, as a five-member committee has been appointed to review the personnel needs of each county office.

The committee — comprised of County Councilmen Daniel Crecelius and Joey Robinson, appointed by the county council, and Commissioner Larry Bye, Circuit Court Judge K. Lynn Lopp and resident Bill Byrd, appointed by the commissioners — also held its first meeting that morning and hopes to deliver an analysis of the offices and departments to the commissioners within the next couple of months.

Crecelius said the committee will act as a study group that will examine the various "jobs and duties … and pull some data together." In addition to determining which offices may be overstaffed, the committee, he said, will look to see which ones are understaffed and for other ways to cuts costs. He said these may include looking at materials, hours and possibly replacing comp time with overtime pay.

"So, basically it's not only looking at personnel, it's (looking at) ways we can save money," he said.

The committee, Crecelius said, will have Auditor Peggy Bullington obtain various numbers from department heads, including the number of employees in each office, their duties and the training required for the jobs.

Crecelius said department heads also will have the opportunity to address the committee, offering their input and explaining the needs of their offices. He added that he believes the public should also be given the chance to speak to the committee.

"We're wanting to do this pretty rapidly, but, of course, want to do it in such a way we don't overlook anything," Crecelius said, saying the committee would like to present its findings to the commissioners by the end of February, if possible. "That might not be enough time."

Crecelius said that while employees were recalled last week, the county still faces the monetary problems that necessitated the layoffs last year, including paying back loans it made to itself from various accounts while it awaited the state's approval to issue property tax bills.

He said money the county has received for housing out-of-county inmates in its jail will help, but a lot of those dollars are committed to repaying the investments made in the jail and to paying other bills the county owes.

Myrna Sanders, a deputy in the Clerk's Office and one of the laid off employees who returned last week, admitted she is worried that she and other employees may not be back at their jobs for long.

"You hope that (your) job is going to be here and you won't be eliminated and have to go somewhere else and find a job," said Sanders, who has worked for the county for nine years.

She said she understands the committee has a tremendous task and believes it'll do a good job.

Clerk Terry Stroud, who was without two employees during the layoffs, said the office struggled.

"It's been tough. We've had to work double, some nights and weekends, just to get some things done," he said, adding he has already given input to committee members. "We actually need just one (additional) person to answer the phone."

Della Wible, one of two employees laid off in the Auditor's Office, said she's "tickled to be back."

Like Sanders, Wible, who has worked at the courthouse since 1999, is concerned about the future of her position, but she tries not to get too worried.

"Whatever's going to be is going to be," she said.

The employees who were laid off collected unemployment, although it was only for portion of their normal pay, and the county continued to pay its part of their health insurance.

Crecelius said the county has several good employees and the committee will offer a written report of its "extensive study" to the commissioners. He added Byrd, the group's chair, will also give a presentation to the commissioners.


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