Worcester has experienced nearly 20 percent drop in staff over last 18 months
In the last 18 months, Worcester County government has lost about 20 percent of its workforce for a variety of reasons, but also has had trouble filling a number of long-term vacancies, according to a report by Human Resources Director Stacey Norton.
Norton delivered her report as part of a special work session on county salaries following the commissioners’ regular meeting on Tuesday.
County Administrator Harold Higgins said the county staff’s budget priority for this year was salaries above all other concerns, while also remaining realistic about funding opportunities to pay for any increases.
Higgins said he knew it was an election year and there would be no tax increases to help offset any requested expenditure increases from county departments. During the budget process, expenditure requests frequently outpace the county’s ability to pay for them, requiring the commissioners to make cuts.
However, the hiring problems are so dire they required Norton to make a mid-year salary increase request to help fill the ranks. The proposal prepared by Norton targeted the lowest-paid employees first, and wouldn’t require any new spending from the commissioners.
“After conferring with Budget Officer Kathy Whited, we have determined that these reclassifications can be funded in our current budget due to savings from current employee retirements and vacant positions,” Norton wrote in her proposal.
The total cost to implement this part of the plan is about $291,000.