Hundreds face layoffs as sheriff tries to balance budget
Saturday May 28, 2005
WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) More than 200 workers at the Worcester county jail could lose their jobs for more than two weeks, during which time inmates would be locked down, as Sheriff Guy Glodis tries to close a $1 million budget shortfall.
Glodis sent letters on Friday to 240 employees, telling them they will be temporarily laid off from June 12 to July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
Of those who received letters, 200 are civilian workers, including clerical help, teachers and social workers, and 40 are temporary workers, including some guards.
Sheriff's spokesman Keith Mitchell said the staff reduction will force the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction to place all inmates in lockdown to maintain safety.
The layoffs could be averted if the Legislature passes a supplemental budget that is before the House Ways and Means Committee. Mitchell said he is cautiously optimistic the budget will be approved by June 12 to avoid the layoffs.
``Reducing the personnel size is the administration's last resort,'' Mitchell said. ``Every dollar has been soaked from every other account so we can meet our payroll requirements.''
The sheriff's letter urges employees to contact their legislators. ``This move is in no way a reflection of your performance at the Worcester County sheriff's office, but comes as a result of a substantial payroll debt,'' the letter reads.
Glodis has blamed the $1 million deficit, in part, on a series of payouts the former sheriff made before leaving office in January.
An audit the Glodis administration commissioned soon after taking office showed former Sheriff John M. Flynn approved a series of holiday and vacation payouts totaling $417,000.
Some workers who were retired were still paid consultant's fees after leaving the jail's payroll. Glodis plans to end the policy of allowing employees to accrue paid leave and institute a ``use-it-or-lose-it'' policy.
The administration has also worked out other ways to cut down on spending, reducing projected overtime costs from $3.5 million to $2.95 million, Mitchell said.
The jail's budget is expected to grow next year to accommodate salary increases. Mitchell said many of the expenses that created the deficit this year won't affect the fiscal 2006 budget, because they were one-time payments necessary to settle obligations, including Flynn's payouts and workers' compensation settlements.
Information from: Telegram & Gazette, http://www.telegram.com