Put the Furlough on Furlough

It is time to say goodbye….

It seems that landing a government job, now a days, becomes a lifelong entitlement.  Once upon a time, you sacrificed pay for the benefits.  Now, it seems that not only do you have a higher paying job, but the benefits to go with it.  The “lifelong” aspect is one that I have recently come to understand.

I found myself in Gainesville on the square on Monday the 25th.  It was like a ghost town.  I was wondering if the county had made the move out to the Liberty Mutual building when I realized that it was a furlough day.  It got me to thinking about the budget and the fact that furloughs “save” the county $2.25m per year, but the benefits are still being paid.  If we look at the number of days worked 52 weeks * 5 days – 9 paid holidays = ~ 251 work days.  So, the furloughs don’t quite save 5%.

So, I wondered to myself: self, I wonder how much meat is being left on the table?  I mean, how much are we paying in benefits for the 5% overhead that we are carrying?  What would 5% of healthcare would be?  How about 5% or retirement?  We can figure this out by the budget.  The budget shows that healthcare will be increasing by 9% or $875,000.  That means that we will be paying about $10.6m in healthcare next year.  A 5% savings on healthcare would be about $525k per year.  When you add retirement ($2.4m total), $120k, it means the furloughs actually cost the county tax payer $645k.

You see, we know that we have too many people on payroll, but no one has the guts to downsize.  That means that the employees suffer because they all take a 5% pay cut and the tax payer suffers because we have to suck up the $645k in benefits.

It is time for some rightsizing.  This is where it gets to be muddy politically.  The only way to do this is to bring in a consultant.  I say that because you know that staff is not going to volunteer the cuts and the ethics ordinance (2.110.2.11) says; “County commissioners, as policy-makers, shall refrain from unduly interfering in the daily administrative affairs of department supervisors. Commissioners shall not give directions or make suggestions to the department supervisors or other employees on an individual basis. All directions should be made as a board to the county administrator, who, in turn, shall communicate with the department supervisor.”  Consultants, however, have a stigma as well.  When I hear the word “consultants”, I think of Office Space, TPS reports, and red swingline staplers.

The commissioners need to get off their butts and start handing out pink slips.  We just can’t keep spending for no reason.  It is time to get our county sized correctly.

Hugh Hall County Akston

  1 comment for “Put the Furlough on Furlough

  1. Slipknot
    May 17, 2011 at 10:21 am

    My department is understaffed by about 50%. Our pay scales are running roughly 50% of private sector, and the market is good for what we do… even now. Why stay here and continue to lose money? Rightsizing????… lol, you have no idea what’s going to happen. When something needs done go ahead and call. The phones will ring but there will be nobody to answer them.

    You screamers out there with your torches and pitchforks …. go head and burn down the house. I’m sure you’ll get everything coming to you. But we won’t be here. There is too much money and opportunity out there to bother with this lynch mob and leadership vacuum in Hall County. I cannot recall the many quotes about an ignorant electorate bring down the system, but I tend agree with most of them. I’m sure when the bottom finally drops out, you’ll find someone else to blame besides yourselves. Have a nice year.

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