20 layoffs accompany pay raises

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Cost-cutting measures by the Augusta Commission during the past week have led to 20 layoffs and the elimination of nine vacant positions.

A part of the savings was used to give pay raises to 76 employees to compensate for added responsibilities, increased workloads and more required skills.

The city workers being let go will be notified today, part of a plan to save up to $700,000 and get through 2009 without a tax rate increase, City Administrator Fred Russell said.

He said he hopes to keep four or five of them employed by moving them to other open positions, but they might earn less pay. Overall, the city has about 2,700 employees.

The cuts will come from the Richmond County Correctional Institution, the Human Relations Commission -- eliminated in its entirety in next year's budget -- and two other departments that Mr. Russell would not disclose.

"Let me emphasize," he told commissioners during a special called meeting Monday to approve a layoff policy, "they're leaving through no fault of their own, but because of budget issues."

Far more city employees are making out better.

By approving "revised job descriptions" in last week's meeting, the commission gave $228,939 in raises to 64 utilities department workers, 11 recreation workers and a tax assessor's office appraiser.

With nine empty positions simultaneously eliminated, the move saves taxpayers $123,235.

Most of the raises were in the 5 percent to 10 percent range, documents from Human Resources show. Some were higher, but still left utilities workers earning in the $20,000-$30,000 range. A cashier, for example, got a 27 percent raise, from $23,369 to $29,629 a year.

The biggest increase went to a utilities department safety officer, now titled safety training & program manager, who got a 33 percent raise to $54,500 per year.

The justification for that raise reads: "The safety program has expanded and the responsibilities have expanded and should be compensated for the additional expansion of duties and requirements."

Interim Utilities Director Drew Goins said the manager, Bernard Woods, is now doing the jobs of two people and the raise is "well-deserved."

Ten percent raises in the Recreation Department include a facilities/aquatics manager increased to $63,120 for having "seven new facilities added to responsibilities," a facilities/senior service manager increased to $60,603 for managing "all senior nutrition/wellness programs added in 2004" and an operations manager raised to $59,516 for having "twelve new parks added to responsibilities."

Mr. Russell had announced that up to 20 positions could be cut when commissioners passed a tight 2009 budget designed to stave off a tax increase.

He has said he's also hoping to come in below budget this year or next to keep taxpayers from paying hundreds of dollars more when the state Legislature eliminates the homeowner grants program.

Under the policy approved Monday, eliminated workers will be notified 60 days before the effective date, receive one month's pay, keep health insurance coverage for 90 days and be paid for 50 percent of unused sick leave, not to exceed 990 hours.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

JOB CUTS

Layoffs

Eliminated positions: 20

Workers left jobless: 15 or 16

Savings: $600,000 to $700,000

JOB "RECLASSIFICATIONS"

Vacant jobs eliminated: Nine (two part-time positions)

Savings: $352,174

Raises: 76

Cost: $228,939

Net savings: $123,235

Source: City Administrator Fred Russell; documents provided by Human Resources

Comments (42) Add comment
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APiratesLife4Me
0
Points
APiratesLife4Me 12/09/08 - 01:59 am
0
0
Wow, Merry Christmas from the

Wow, Merry Christmas from the Augusta Commisioners. What a gift.

iletuknow
8
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iletuknow 12/09/08 - 03:45 am
0
0
WOW! These salaries are

WOW! These salaries are outrageous.

NEone
6
Points
NEone 12/09/08 - 03:59 am
0
0
I don't think the salaries

I don't think the salaries are "outrageous". However, I do wonder at eliminating nine positions for a total of $123,235. That's an average of $14,141 per employee. Who can live on that puny salary? Sure, it's better than nothing, but really...

Dodarighthang
0
Points
Dodarighthang 12/09/08 - 04:37 am
0
0
I think the law should be

I think the law should be changed. Innocent people are being laid off and it doesn't have to be the employee's fault. It's the big bucks managment MIS-MANAGING!!! Why should people like you and I have to suffer for it??? I was laid off for being hired "7" years to soon, after working for the company for 9 months. I was told I was doing a great job, but they made a mistake in hiring me too soon!!! Now I'm the victim of their mistake!! LISTEN UP LAWMAKERS, this could be YOU!!!

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 12/09/08 - 05:24 am
0
0
These are tough decisions,
Unpublished

These are tough decisions, but ultimately, you have to stay within a budget. You can not keep going to the well, one day
the well may dry up! I think out of 2700 employees a ten per cent cut should be attainable. I believe the state and federal governments are heading in the same direction. Sorry, but I advocate smaller government and less give away programs.

kat30815
14
Points
kat30815 12/09/08 - 06:12 am
0
0
Any company who issues

Any company who issues layoffs during the month of December can be declared complete and total a-holes.
If you should get a pink slip this month and you decide to drop trou and empty your bowels on you mangers desk (like they have figurativety just done to you) I will applaud you!!

white_trash
0
Points
white_trash 12/09/08 - 06:23 am
0
0
Did the comissioners give

Did the comissioners give back their gas subsidies????

Martinez
154
Points
Martinez 12/09/08 - 07:11 am
0
0
Receiving a Lay Off, whether

Receiving a Lay Off, whether in December or any other month is difficult. But I definitely don't agree with "Victimized". I don't want Government creating laws that dictate business decisions, including Lay Offs. We have a right to work just as businesses have the right to employ us. Businesses are already gun shy of relieving under performing employees of their duties for fear of frivilous lawsuits and fabricated discrimation claims. I actually applaud the Commissions plan for once. Having been in the situation before where my responsibilities increased due to others being laid off, I am glad to see those remaining and carry double loads will be compensated for their efforts.

No_Longer_Amazed
5146
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 12/09/08 - 08:03 am
0
0
NEone: "Vacant jobs

NEone: "Vacant jobs eliminated: Nine (two part-time positions) Savings: $352,174" is a lot more than "an average of $14,141 per employee."

No_Longer_Amazed
5146
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 12/09/08 - 08:05 am
0
0
IMO a COLA across the board

IMO a COLA across the board would have been a lot better than 'targeted' raises to a select few.

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 12/09/08 - 08:08 am
0
0
Across the board raises send

Across the board raises send a terrible message to workers. Raises should be merit based.

karmakills123
8
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karmakills123 12/09/08 - 08:25 am
0
0
"merit based"...LOL...?????

"merit based"...LOL...????? In Augusta??? surely you jest little lamb....if that were the criteria NO one working over there would get a raise...................

sanders23
0
Points
sanders23 12/09/08 - 08:27 am
0
0
30k to be a cashier???

30k to be a cashier???

patel99
0
Points
patel99 12/09/08 - 08:56 am
0
0
Fire Fred Russell or the next

Fire Fred Russell or the next time it just might be your kids who wont have a christmas.

AugustaVoter
2
Points
AugustaVoter 12/09/08 - 08:57 am
0
0
Look at his picture, Sitting

Look at his picture, Sitting all high and mighty. Merry Christmas Fred!

AugustaVoter
2
Points
AugustaVoter 12/09/08 - 09:00 am
0
0
Oh yeah, Fred is short, has

Oh yeah, Fred is short, has Napoleon syndrome and has chicken legs! Merry Christmas, Fred! You should be drawn and quartered.

sugarbutton
1255
Points
sugarbutton 12/09/08 - 09:26 am
0
0
Times are tough and our govt

Times are tough and our govt agency has cut back alot and we may not see a merit increase or a COLA in 2009 but so far no jobs have been lost. I'm thankful I have my job and good benefits.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 12/09/08 - 09:34 am
0
0
It is amazing that none of

It is amazing that none of these changes were in the 2009 proposed budget submitted by Fred to the Commission! In fact the Utilities branch asked for 11 new hires and said nothing about raises in their submission. I don't know what the TAX assessor position was, the A.C. forgot to tell us. The 11 people for the utilities were supposed to be for the new mission of providing Ft G. and I wonder where they were included? In fact if the contract with Ft G. was a good deal, their cost would be a wash. Really, none of us knows what Fred and the rest of the gang are doing, because they refuse to make the budget process transparent, thats how they get away with doing what they do and we keep electing them. Folks do yourself a favor and go to the city web site, type in 2009 budget and go to the last section of that document and look at what was proposed for additional funding not more than a couple of months ago, then tell me where these changes came from!!

Nothing else to say
2
Points
Nothing else to say 12/09/08 - 09:48 am
0
0
That "cashier" handles the

That "cashier" handles the tax money you pay... don't you want someone with intelligence and responsibility in that position. That's why you pay the "$30,000"

mable8
2
Points
mable8 12/09/08 - 09:56 am
0
0
State Employees rarely get

State Employees rarely get "COLA" raises; as for "Merit raises," those are a joke.

Victim of Section 8
0
Points
Victim of Section 8 12/09/08 - 10:04 am
0
0
I wonder if any of our

I wonder if any of our commissioners (representatives of the people) have any compassion. To vote to layoff employees who more than likely have families to support, sends an ugly message to those you are representating. I'm sure the people you gave raises to already make a decent salary. What ever happened to employees who are willing to compromise and work as a team, instead of everyone looking out for number one. The commissioners have truly made this city/county live up to its nickname, "DIS-GUSTA".

rufus
2
Points
rufus 12/09/08 - 10:36 am
0
0
Some Gubmint workers sit on

Some Gubmint workers sit on their tail during good economic times because they know they won't get fired. Well, the good times are gone and now it's time to pay the piper.

No_Longer_Amazed
5146
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 12/09/08 - 10:48 am
0
0
sugarbutton: You say "so far

sugarbutton: You say "so far no jobs have been lost" - apparently you don't comprehend what you read. The article specifically states "Cost-cutting measures by the Augusta Commission during the past week have led to 20 layoffs" and "Workers left jobless: 15 or 16"

FringeElement
0
Points
FringeElement 12/09/08 - 11:24 am
0
0
Take the money saved and lets

Take the money saved and lets add more section 8 housing to columbia county.

justus4
113
Points
justus4 12/09/08 - 01:24 pm
0
0
What is the racial makeup of
Unpublished

What is the racial makeup of these laid off individuals? It wouldn't be an exaggeration to think that ethnicity played a role and that that information should've appeared in this so-called information piece. What an omission!

godogs
0
Points
godogs 12/09/08 - 01:50 pm
0
0
Justus budgets don't come in

Justus budgets don't come in color. Get a life!!!!

edst4
0
Points
edst4 12/09/08 - 02:35 pm
0
0
Question Mr. Russell does the

Question Mr. Russell does the county pay for your membership at the pinnacle club or do you pay for it? I think I see you eating there at least 2 times a week if not more, Now if you are paying for it. I say you need to take a pay cut maybe that will allow one employee not to be let go......

edst4
0
Points
edst4 12/09/08 - 02:44 pm
0
0
justus once again run's his

justus once again run's his mouth, I still say you need to be slapped for being so stupid, Lord I hate dealing with people that do not have any brain cells....

Reality
3
Points
Reality 12/09/08 - 03:28 pm
0
0
I have seen enough inept

I have seen enough inept Government workers to know that a lot more than 20 could and should be terminated. Don't worry justus, if there seems to be any injustice done, the NAACP will be here to help clarify.....

whitescorpion
2
Points
whitescorpion 12/09/08 - 04:29 pm
0
0
Hopefully they just cut the

Hopefully they just cut the dead wood.

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