Budget cuts force county lay-offs
By Dwayne Bremer
Sep 3, 2013, 21:17
Budget cuts will costs at least six Hancock County employees their jobs and other county services will also be cut, officials said Tuesday.
Last month, the Hancock County Board of Supervisors ordered a 12 percent budget cut in the sheriff's office, the chancery and circuit clerks offices, and the tax assessor/collector's office.
Last week, the board reduced the cuts to six percent.
Supervisors said the cuts were necessary because the county was in a tight budget position and did not want to raise millage.
The sheriff's office will apparently be hit the hardest by the budget cuts.
Sheriff Ricky Adam announced his lay-offs to the board on Tuesday. He said his budget cuts will total more than $400,000.
Adam said he will be laying off "four to six" employees effective Oct. 1.
The employees being laid off will be from the jail and patrol, Adam said.
"These lay-offs are troubling to me," Adam said. "We have cut where ever we can, but we are going to have to lose some good people. It's pretty damn sad."
In addition to the layoffs, the sheriff's office will not replace a transport officer who recently resigned to take a job with the U.S. Customs Office; a facilitator for the MDOC drug and alcohol program; and a secretary who retired in March.
In addition to cutting manpower, Adam said services will also have to be cut.
Adam said the medical contract at the jail will be cut by $50,000 and the sheriff's office will no longer be able to provide patrols on the Jourdan River.
Adam said he feels that the budget cuts will make it harder to enforce the law.
"We have made a lot of progress," Adam said. "Our felony drug arrests are up 400 percent. Our burglary rate is down from about 20 per month to about four per month. This cost-cutting is going to hurt. Our deputies are already the lowest paid on the Gulf Coast. It is a sad day at the sheriff's office."
"We want to thank the sheriff and all of the department heads for working with us during these tough times," Board of Supervisors President Lisa Cowand said Tuesday. "Hopefully, things will get better soon. We have not approved the budget and we are still looking at some things, but unless something dramatic happens, it looks like this is what is going to have to happen.
In addition to the sheriff's office, Tax Assessor/Collector Jimmie Ladner said Tuesday that he will have to lay off two part-time employees.
Chancery Clerk Tim Kellar said Tuesday that he hopes to avoid laying off employees, but he is not sure what his final budget will be.
"I am going to try to make it work, but I will lay off people if I can't make it work the money we have."
Circuit Clerk Karen Ruhr said Tuesday that her office will cut in some areas, but she is hoping not to cut any full-time employees.
Supervisors have until Sept. 15 to adopt the budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.