Budget forces officials to discuss possible layoff of county employees

The county has received state money to keep impaired drivers off the road.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Budget hearings are nearly complete, and Mahoning County commissioners are looking into what legal steps they will need to take if they have to implement layoffs.
At their meeting Thursday, the commissioners passed a resolution approving further employee layoffs or job abolishments for departments they oversee that receive general fund money.
Joseph Caruso, assistant county administrator, said the commissioners oversee these general fund departments: Office of Management and Budget, personnel, purchasing, facilities management, jail medical staff, Emergency Management Agency/911 Center, microfilm, the Department of Job and Family Services, and the commissioners' personal staff.
Total employees in all those departments is around 450, with the largest number in Job and Family Services, which includes the Child Support Enforcement Agency.
Legal issues
Caruso explained the commissioners are required to look at all the legal procedures they must follow under civil service law before implementing any layoffs.
Caruso and the OMB department are working on draft proposals of the pending 2005 budget and preparing different scenarios the commissioners could use to handle any layoffs.
Budget hearings end next Thursday, and the board then will begin the task of paring $57 million in budget requests submitted by officeholders to meet expected revenues of between $34 million and $35 million.
The outgoing commissioners passed a temporary appropriation in December of $12 million to begin 2005. The final budget must be in place by April 1.
Caruso emphasized that the resolution affects only the commissioners' potential job reduction actions.
"It will be up to the elected officeholder to handle layoffs within their departments" once they receive their full-year appropriation, Caruso said.
State funding
Also at the meeting, the commissioners announced that they, in partnership with the county's district health board, have received $80,000 in state funding to pay for overtime enforcement and education to help keep people off the road who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The money, provided through the Ohio Department of Public Safety/Governor's Highway Safety Office, will be used to pay officers from law enforcement agencies throughout the county to create a task force whose mission is to reduce fatal and injury crashes in the county.
Communities that have signed on to participate are Austintown, Beaver, Goshen, Jackson, Poland, Smith, Milton, and Springfield townships, city of Canfield, New Middletown, Struthers and Lake Milton State Park.
Contractual arrangements already have been awarded to the county sheriff's office and Youngstown Police Department to participate in the task force.
Tracy Styka of the health board will serve as task force coordinator.

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