By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO November 10, 2006 In a dramatic announcement given rather undramatically yesterday, the Sullivan County Legislature reversed its planned layoffs of 41 employees.
Budget Chair Jonathan Rouis and County Manager David Fanslau announced that no layoffs will be needed after a retirement incentive program drew a better-than-expected interest.
Fanslau estimated that there could be 35-55 new retirements, beginning in January. Most of them will be rank-and-file, although there will be a few senior management positions included.
“I am comfortable to say that layoffs are off the table,” stated Rouis at the beginning of the Financial Management Committee meeting he chairs.
The county will still leave 183 vacancies unfilled in the budget, as initially planned. That will require employees to do more with less, he added.
Fanslau said he has been meeting with labor unions and has asked them to draw up a five-year plan to address appropriate staffing levels. An attrition program will be in place by January.
In other county budget reversals, the Sullivan County Museum in Hurleyville will remain open year-round after museum officials met with county legislators, Fanslau and Department of Public Works Commissioner Bob Meyer to reach an agreement.
Legislator Jodi Goodman, who took part in those discussions, said museum volunteers will personally be providing services which were previously county expenses: snowplowing, cleaning, garbage removal, and telephone costs. Even Legislator Leni Binder, a longtime supporter of the museum, will take on a role as duster.
“This is government at its best,” remarked Goodman.