County employees say cuts will hurt - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

County employees say cuts will hurt

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – It's almost certain that Dougherty County employees will lose close to 5% of their pay this year. Wednesday, the finance committee took a final vote to recommend that county employees have 12 days of holiday pay cut for the next fiscal year.  For some, that amounts to thousands of dollars in pay, and now they are struggling with ways to make up the difference.

The past month of finance committee meetings have been met with tough decisions for commissioners who are trying to make up a nearly $5 Million shortfall. Revenues for the county are way down, and insurance costs have gone up. They are planning to pull millions from reserves, but the rest will be pulled from paychecks, and that's a tough pill for employees to swallow.

Dougherty County Court Administrator Debbie McBean can't say she's surprised by the news. "I knew the furloughs were coming, but it's still hard to adjust to."

Hard to adjust to 4.6% of her salary being cut. "Over time that would be more than my groceries for a year," she said, "and being a single person and having to take care of myself, that's a great hardship for me." And she knows it will be even worse for others.  She said, "They're livid. They don't know where they're going to turn to. They don't know what they're going to do."

Folks like Reginald Cody. He works for public works.  He said, "I feel that we are hard workers out here and we really need our pay, because we got families." Families that may have to do without some of the things they are used to.

"Getting a day cut off is almost $100 for me," he said, "and that's a bill for me and my family." And it's not just that his pay is being cut, his health insurance premiums are going up.

"Trying times, you know what I mean and it's rough."

So rough, people like Johnny Wright are considering second jobs.  Wright said, "They had to do what they had to do, so I got to do what I got to do."

Which means he'll adjust his budget and may have to get another job. But even with the cuts, he's thankful to have a job. "At least I got a job. Something coming in is better than nothing coming in."

But the next 12 paychecks will be smaller for all county employees. "Bad times," said McBean. "Bad times for everybody." Shutting down the county one day a month, turning the lights out on taxpayers and employees.

The 12 furlough days will require county offices to close an additional six days that they are not currently closed. That includes courts, the district attorneys office, public works, the tag office and all other county departments.

The county finance committee is also recommending to cut the pay of commissioners. That will amount to about 40 dollars per month for each commissioner. The full commission will vote on implementing unpaid holidays June 14th in order to give employees and department heads advance notice.


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