Houston County commissioners put a freeze on new jobs Monday.
We spoke with county personnel about how this might impact their operations.
The Houston County Commission voted to approve a position freeze that would stop the hiring of employees for new positions until April 2009.
Commissioners say rising fuel prices have taken a toll on the budget.
Houston Co. Commission Chairman Mark Culver said, “It looks like it's going to be a couple hundred thousand dollars over budget possibly, so we want to address that issue; that's one of the reasons to put this position freeze on to keep our costs down.”
The county has approximately 20 positions already budgeted and approved that will be filled.
Houston Co. Personnel Director Sheri Stephenson said, “The freeze actually affects any new slots that might be requested. The personnel board will not approve those because the funding has not been approved by the commission.”
Commissioners say that while some county agencies may be short staffed, they will have to get by with the number of workers they have until next year.
“We could use some more laborers in road and bridge,” Culver continued. “Certainly we could use some more dispatchers, potentially some more jailers because of the jail population. We can only staff what we can afford.”
Culver says sales tax figures that continue to grow by four percent keep him optimistic about the future. He’s hoping that a conservative approach this year will allow them to fill the employment gap next year.
The commission will review the hiring budget for next year during their August hearings.