Co. leaders approve job freeze

QUEENSBURY - Continuing their pursuit of cost-cutting measures, the Warren County Supervisors Personnel Committee approved a six-month hiring freeze Dec. 10.

If passed by the full Board of Supervisors Friday, Dec. 19, the measure will take effect Jan. 1 and last until June 30, 2009. Any county position that becomes vacant through attrition will not be filled unless it is required by state or federal mandate, according to the policy.

Over the last several months, county supervisors have been struggling with increasing operational costs and have repeatedly suggested that if departmental budgets were not reduced, layoffs would likely occur.

The hiring freeze resolution includes a provision which will allow new hiring, but only with a two-thirds super-majority of the board of supervisors.

"The current recession has put us in a real bind and we need to find ways to reduce cost," Glens Falls Supervisor-at-Large William Kenny said.

State law mandates that some positions be filled in order to maintain certain functions. Mandated positions, officials said, will not require the super-majority that will be necessary to fill non-mandated vacancies.

Positions that are exempt from the hiring freeze include police officers, corrections officers and healthcare professionals at the Westmount Health Facility per state regulation.

Lake George Supervisor Lou Tessier expressed doubts about an iron-clad freeze, although he ended up voting for the policy as did all other personnel committee members.

"We have an obligation to the taxpayer," Tessier said. "It is our duty to make sure that necessary services are maintained."

During the recent 2009 budget development process, supervisors expressed support for cutting jobs through attrition rather than layoffs, which some county officials have said is necessary during the economic downturn to keep taxes at an affordable level.

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