Steamboat Springs The Routt County Board of Commissioners agreed Monday to a process for identifying the positions it will cut in response to budget shortfalls.
According to the schedule presented by County Manager Tom Sullivan, an initial round of layoffs will be presented to the commissioners in July.
Layoffs have been considered for months as part of plans to confront a $4.9 million deficit in the county's 2009 budget. None have been made, however, while the county has taken other steps such as instituting a hiring freeze, pay reductions and furloughs.
The uncertainty surrounding layoffs has created some anxiety and frustration among county employees, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak acknowledged.
"At some time we just have to bite the bullet and make decisions," she said.
"I think it's a tight timeline," he said. "They want to know what's happening sooner than later."
A few county employees attended the commissioners' discussion with Sullivan on Monday. Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland was out of town at a conference, but she said employees in her department are certainly concerned.
"Of course we're all anxious. It's our livelihoods," Weinland said. "It's been stressful."
Sullivan said he would work with department heads during the next month to identify specific positions for elimination. The proposed cuts would then be presented to the commissioners. Fee-supported departments with falling revenues and departments where workload has declined would be the most vulnerable to cuts.
"The whole discussion is right-sizing our county government," Commissioner Doug Monger said.
County officials said they hope this round of layoffs will be enough to balance their 2010 budget. If not, there would have to be an additional round and a reduction in levels of service.
"We're still going to have employees who are anxious and worried about their position until the economy turns around," Sullivan said.
In cutting positions, the county also will consider whether a position performs a core, necessary or discretionary function of county government; what impact cutting a position would have on a department's workload; how recently the position was created and filled; and whether there is shared funding for the position.
The county currently has about 227 employees, about 49 of which have been added in the past decade. Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush warned against assuming that the most recently created positions are the least important. Similarly, Weinland said that although fee revenues have declined in her department, that does not necessarily mean workload has decreased proportionately.