By the end of the month, Rock Island County could lay off nine employees in an attempt to deal with declining tax revenues and late payments from the state.
The Rock Island County Board reviewed the potential layoffs Tuesday and county officials will meet with union representatives to review their plans, county board chairman Jim Bohnsack said Wednesday.
The positions include a correctional officer, secretary and telecommunications specialists in the sheriff’s department; an employee in the county assessor’s office; 21/2 positions in the circuit clerk’s office; a secretary and investigator in the public defender’s office; and an information and technology specialist shared by offices.
Bohnsack said the county has been trying to deal with its budget shortfall in recent months and may have no other choice but to proceed with layoffs.
“Any time you have to lay people off, you hurt people and you hurt services,” he said.
Bohnsack said the county’s revenues were $3 million short of their budget projections a few months ago. Larger than expected revenues from the county’s nursing home, Hope Creek Care Center in East Moline, helped trim that to $2 million.
The sheriff’s department has cut overtime and special trips from its budget in an attempt to deal with the problem, but it hasn’t been enough, which prompted Sheriff Mike Huff to recommend cutting three positions, Bohnsack said. Efforts to reach Huff for comment were unsuccessful.
Bohnsack noted that the sheriff’s department already is not replacing a captain and two deputies who are retiring.
He said the loss of a position in the assessor’s office also will be challenging because there are only three employees in that office.
Dino Leone, staff representative for the local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, said the county could make budget cuts elsewhere before laying off employees.
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“It’s absolutely irresponsible,” he said. “There are better means to making cuts other than personnel cuts.”
He argued that the county has enough money to keep the employees longer.
“It’s obvious they have money they could spend down before any layoffs occur,” he said.
Bohnsack noted that the financial situation might not improve anytime soon. The county will begin planning its next fiscal year budget in September.
“Right now it doesn’t look any better next year, but we just have to keep going month by month,” he said.