Thursday, October 29, 2009

Milwaukee County to lay off up to 200 Employees

Temporary job cuts to address budget shortfall, Walker says
By Steve Schultze of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Oct. 28, 2009
Temporary layoffs of 150 to 200 Milwaukee County employees will be done to avoid a 2009 year-end shortfall now projected at $3 million, County Executive Scott Walker said Wednesday.

The layoff news came just before the County Board's budget committee recommended its version of a 2010 budget that called for creation of a new $20 motor vehicle registration fee, or "wheel tax," to pay for transit. That fee would raise nearly $9 million and would be in addition to state and City of Milwaukee registration fees.

The county budget approved by the committee also included a tax levy increase of $1.1 million, a rise of just 0.4%, to $258 million.

Walker proposed a tax levy freeze for 2010 at this year's $257 million level.

The layoffs will likely be spread across most county departments, Walker said. Notices could go out as soon as Friday, he said. Under union contracts, most employees must be given two weeks' notice before layoffs are done.

The layoffs became necessary after a new tally that showed sales tax receipts lower than anticipated over the summer and a lower-than-expected state Medicaid reimbursement, Walker said.

If the County Board had agreed to the 35-hour workweek he tried to impose on county workers in May to avoid a year-end deficit, the layoffs may have been avoided, Walker said.

The layoffs will likely last through the end of the year. "Merry Christmas from Scott Walker."

Most county employees must take four furlough days before the end of the year, saving an estimated $1.5 million. That still leaves this year's county budget with a $3 million hole, he said.
Walker said other steps were being taken to tighten county spending further, including purchasing restrictions.

The county also faces a potential $80 million shortfall for 2010 that Walker has proposed filling through employee concessions and outsourcing.These could be AFSCME jobs.

These are our brothers and sisters of Council 48. Is this the beginning of the end if Walker becomes our next Governor? We need to help save our jobs, so we will have to vote responsibly next November to protect all AFSCME jobs.

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