Pending county job cuts may cost taxpayers plenty, officials say

QUEENSBURY - The 24 Warren County government jobs that the county supervisors voted to eliminate by July 1 may put excessive workload on some employees that remain and may even cost taxpayers more than the salaries saved in the cuts, officials said.

County supervisors voted Friday to eliminate 24 jobs across 15 county departments, as they proposed and endorsed only two weeks ago, to help offset a $6.35 million anticipated budget shortfall in 2010.

Abolishing posts will cost the county taxpayers reimbursement of unemployment payments, while in many cases cutting state reimbursement for the positions - a revenue for the county - department heads said.

Other cuts may shift workload to other sources at a higher cost, they said.

County Fire Prevention and Building Codes Administrator Karen Putney said she'd just filled

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a position for a code inspector last week to check fire safety in commercial locations. The county charges $75 for these inspections now instead of $25 just months ago.

But the worker hired as fire inspector quit three days after he was hired when he heard of a proposed cut of one employee in the department. These inspections, which the county has a pending backlog of about 700 inspections, need to be conducted soon, Putney said.

Otherwise, the state may take them over and charge Warren County a mandated $525 apiece to complete the work, she said.

"The state could come in here, take them over at a great financial loss to the county," she said. "This is a life-safety issue - if this doesn't get done, the public is at risk."

County Commissioner of Social Services Sheila Weaver said her employees are facing a much heavier workload, tighter mandates, greater reporting requirements, but now with fewer people to accomplish the work.

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