37 remain jobless after 'Black Friday' Most layoff victims found other jobs

July 01, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

On April 16, a day recalled as "Black Friday" by some, more than 300 county employees received pink slips, victims of a large-scale governmental reorganization ordered by County Executive Robert R. Neall.

But as the new fiscal year begins today, only 37 people, all of them contractual employees, have actually been fired, county officials said. The rest have either left voluntarily, found jobs with other employees or been placed in vacant county jobs.

And those 37 fired employees still have a shot at 45 vacancies thecounty is still seeking to fill.

"We're trying to hold the number of pink slips to an absolute minimum," Mr. Neall said yesterday, noting that every merit system employee who received a layoff notice has been placed in another county job.

The reorganization was necessary, Mr. Neall said, because of the fiscal squeeze applied by a triple whammy of the recession, a property tax cap and $65 million in state aid cuts. While some of the 300 who received termination notices eventually were placed in other county jobs, more than 100 layoffs were ultimately expected.

When Mr. Neall was elected in the fall of 1990, he vowed to cut the government work force by 10 percent. He said yesterday that he has nearly achieved that goal, mostly by cutting positions left vacant by attrition.

In April, Mr. Neall said he would cut 440 positions, including 120 vacant jobs. All of the county's 235 contractual employees would undergo a change in status, either being laid off, switched to merit positions or placed in privatized government organizations.

According to personnel department figures, 98 merit employees received layoff notices. Because of attrition -- some retired and others found new jobs on their own -- that number was reduced to 75. Seventeen of that number exercised "bumping" rights, taking the job of another employee they outranked in seniority. Fifty-six were given other county jobs.

All of the 235 contractual employees received layoff notices. Of that number, 97 have had their contracts extended until the end of August and will probably be converted into regular merit county employees.

Of the rest, 29 will become part-time employees with no benefits, 33 will move to privatized government organizations, 13 have already been moved into county merit positions and 26 have gone on the state payroll. Two people in the domestic relations unit of the state's attorney's office will remain on county contract.

Mr. Neall said he does not foresee any further cuts in state aid and that he hopes to stabilize what has been a turbulent situation for his employees since the possibility of layoffs was announced in January.

"Any time you go through a change like this, there is a little bit of a healing process," he said. "I think the good thing is most of the bad stuff is behind us, because we took care of a lot of it early."

Effective today, the restructured county government comprises four "core groups": human services, land use and environment, administration and public safety. Six departments have been merged: Planning and zoning has been combined with inspections and permits; utilities is now part of public works; and the budget office has merged with finance.

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