Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton released a report Monday detailing 69 vacant and filled county jobs that will be eliminated as part of a rightsizing effort.
The plan will result in a net 56 cuts because 13 positions were added -- six division heads mandated by the home rule charter, three budget and finance analysts and four probation clerical positions, he said
Lawton told council the administration plans to proceed with the workforce reductions before council approves the 2013 budget. Council must adopt a budget between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15.
The report doesn't delineate filled and unfilled positions, but Lawton has informed council there will be 33 layoffs.
The reductions will bring the staff count down from 1,497 to 1,441, the report says.
The plan calls for the elimination of 10 probation officers in the court probation services department and six positions in domestic relations – an administrative aide, two support masters and three support officers.
Charles Majikes, head of the union representing domestic relations and adult/juvenile probation officers, said he is still awaiting official notification about layoffs and had no idea a combined 13 union members were planned for elimination in both offices.
He has had ongoing discussions with court and county officials about the union's willingness to consider possible concessions to avoid more layoffs. He said the union initiated the discussions months ago to leave enough time to explore all options before the budget crunch.
I'm in a state of shock, but I'm hopeful that the administration will continue discussions on concessions so any layoffs could be avoided.
One of eight detectives in the county District Attorney's Office will be furloughed.
A veteran detective would have the option to prevent the layoff of a coworker with less seniority under a new clause added to the detective contract awarded through arbitration. The clause allows qualifying detectives over age 55 to receive health care until they're eligible for Medicare if they voluntarily leave employment.
The Register of Wills Office will lose one of two deputies and Hazleton deputy register of wills Anthony Dixon. The other two deputies are Michael Hudacek and Donald Williamson, and it's unclear which will be furloughed.
Register of Wills Dorothy Stankovic could not be reached for comment Monday. She is guaranteed a salary of $38,562 through the end of 2013, when her elected terms expires and the seat is eliminated under home rule.
Cuts were expected because the office is merging with others under a new home rule Judicial Services and Records Division.
Lawton's plan includes the elimination of 17 vacant children-and-youth caseworker positions, which will keep the caseworker count at 81.
Eighteen correctional officer eliminations – eight filled – already were announced.
The Assessor's Office will lose one of six property field investigators and a clerk typist, and two of 17 custodial workers are slated for elimination in Building and Grounds.
Two of 20 security officers will be cut, and the Court Magistrates Division will lose a central court administrator and one of 48 secretaries. Central Court Administrator Jim Torbik already was furloughed.
One position, vacant or filled, will be cut in the following departments: Mapping, Deeds, Clerk of Courts, 911 and Emergency Management.
The prison has the largest staff count, with 306 after reductions, followed by children-and-youth, 167, and probation services, 100.
Paula Schnelly, head of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, said at least three union employees were notified of the planned layoffs Monday. She was outraged to learn about the plans from employees and the media.
This is very disturbing that they are not communicating to the union at all. They should be giving us a list before it goes anywhere, Schnelly said, adding that she has concerns the county may not be following union requirements in layoff decisions.
Staffing cuts will help the 2013 budget absorb multimillion-dollar increases for union raises, debt repayment, health insurance and expenses insufficiently funded this year, officials said.
Lawton said all proposed cuts would be implemented regardless of the budget situation because they were based on a review of appropriate staff sizes with management input.
The county employed 1,628 in January 2011.
Lawton's proposed $122.25 million budget, which does not increase property taxes, hinges on a $4.35 million carryover that would largely come from a past-used option known as monetization, in which the county receives up-front cash for delinquent taxes.
County council rejected that option earlier this year because the county gives up receipt of full taxes and penalties owed in exchange for the advance funding.
Lawton said the county could generate $5.5 million in revenue monetizing this year. He plans to brief council on the option at the Oct. 30 budget hearing and request council authorization to proceed with the plan around the end of November.