Layoffs loom for York County

$388 million spending plan devotes more cash to road fixes

mgarfield@heraldonline.comMay 5, 2010 

Layoffs and cuts to libraries and museum facilities are part of a budget request York County Manager Jim Baker will unveil today.

Baker warned of "significant personnel changes" in a memo last week, saying slower growth and less state money have created a shortfall.

Homeowners would not face a property tax increase under the $388 million spending plan. However, Baker does propose increases for people in the Flint Hill and Newport fire districts to allow those fast-growing areas to move toward full-time firefighters. The increase would amount to $1.20 for a homeowner living in a $150,000 house.

Volunteer firefighters can no longer keep pace with demands in Flint Hill and Newport, once rural communities now home to an outer ring of Charlotte suburbs.

York County drivers tired of potholes and crumbling roads will get some relief. Baker wants to set aside $1.1 million for road maintenance - an increase of 8 percent over the current-year program.

"If we don't do something about it now, it's going to cost us a lot more than 8 percent in the long run," said County Councilman Paul Lindemann.

County engineers have devised a list of "critical needs" roads that get top priority. It's a separate effort from C-fund projects, which come from state gas tax revenues. The county must step in, officials say, because the state has not kept up with repairs.

Under Baker's proposal, York County would shift money to the general fund by making a $300,000 cut to the library system and $99,000 cut to the Culture and Heritage Commission. The library got special money last year for renovations.

Now, the two groups will have to "share the pain, just like everybody else," said Council Chairman Buddy Motz.

Planning and development would be the hardest-hit department. Twelve occupied positions - and three vacant jobs - would get cut, saving $775,000.

"Changes should first be made in areas that have been affected by the economy," Baker said in a memo.

Baker has said he will not immediately replace former Planning Director Susan Britt, who resigned in April.

The detention center requested eight detention officers and three rovers at one of the new housing units at Moss Justice Center in York. Baker wants to delay opening the unit and hiring new guards, saving $505,000.

For the second straight year, county employees would not get merit raises.

Workers will forge ahead with renovations to the old courthouse in downtown York and the Department of Social Services.

Other long-planned county projects could get delayed. Among them: a parking expansion at the Moss Justice Center, a new recycling center, fire training renovations, fire substations and renovations to McCelvey Center and the county office complex on Heckle Boulevard.

Baker said he would take a closer look at needs to figure out which projects should come first. Today's public budget workshop starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Heckle complex.

Matt Garfield 803-329-4063

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