The county cut about 30 positions, which included at least seven layoffs and many vacant positions, or about $1.1 million in salary and benefits in an effort to close an estimated $4.4 million budget gap this year.
Of the layoffs, two were in public affairs, two in Human Resources, one in General Services and Engineering, two in Public Works, and several part time positions in Parks and Recreation.
The Emergency Services Department was also dissolved on Tuesday, officially eliminating the ESD director John McNeil’s position, and reformed into the Fire and Rescue department, with fire and E911. The Animal Control and Community Compliance divisions were put under Parks and Recreation and Maintenance department.Fire division Chief Cedric Scott, who had worked under McNeil, was appointed as the Fire and Rescue chief. A county spokesperson said it was unclear if Scott’s salary or pay grade had been changed in the appointment.
In an unusual move, the Board of Commissioners also went back and forth with votes at Tuesday’s called meeting on budget amendments to essentially reinstate and cut again several positions that were part of a list of budget cuts approved on Monday.
On Monday, the BOC had approved about $1 million of cuts in salaries from nine departments: the Board of Commissioners ($5,850), finance department ($14,000), human resources department ($58,521), tax assessor's office ($36,118), public affairs department ($84,860), General Services and Engineering department ($191,718), fire division ($451,827), recreation and maintenance ($211,847), and parks ($24,653).
Three positions out of that list of cuts — one in public affairs, one in GS&E and one in recreation and maintenance, totaling about $103,000 in salary — were the topic of votes on Tuesday. In the first round of votes, after the hour-long executive session, all three commissioners voted to remove the positions from the list of cuts.
During the public comments section, resident Garvin Haynes, who also sits on the Water and Sewerage Authority Board and on the Board of Elections, questioned whether the votes on Tuesday were illegal because it appeared to undo the vote on Monday.
County Clerk Jennifer Rutledge explained that the votes each counted as separate votes, even though the topic was the same.
Commissioner Oz Nesbitt then asked for a second executive session, for about 15 minutes, and the commissioners reconvened and voted again, this time to put the positions back on the list of cuts. The vote was 2-1, with Commissioner JaNice Van Ness voting against.