Alexander County Board Cuts Part-Time Staff
ALEXANDER CO. -- 2014 is shaping up to be a challenging year for Alexander County. Leaders say money is incredibly tight and the situation so dire, that last week the board slashed nearly $60,000 from next year's budget. That means county offices will lose six to seven part-time employees. Elected officials say the jobs they now have to eliminate will hurt significantly.
You can tell by the mounds of paperwork on Frances Lee's desk that her job as Alexander County Clerk is never-ending. Which makes the role of part-time assistant Wytonia Orr all the more important, especially heading into an election year.
"Without my part-time helper or worker, it'll be virtually impossible to conduct everything that we need to do in here," explains Lee.
But come January first, Orr's position will be eliminated, along with five to six other part-time jobs in other county departments.
"We've been hearing rumors about it for about a month or so, but we didn't know if it was actually going to happen," explains Orr.
Alexander County Board Chair Harold McNelly says the county is bleeding money: from the growing inmate medical bills at the jail, to decreasing state funds.
"All we're doing is just paying the necessities to keep the doors open, and there's no way that we can generate income as a board," says McNelly. "All we can do is cut. And it may get worse than this."
Lee says she noticed the county finances take a turn for the worse about 10 years ago. Then major flooding hit Olive Branch in 2011 and Tamms Prison was shut down early this year, forcing more and more people to leave.
"When you get into the county government, of course you're dealing with real estate taxes, that sort of thing. If you don't have growth there, you're going to lose tax dollars, that's what's affected us a great deal," Lee explains.
McNelly says this first round of cuts may not be enough, but with only two people left in the county clerk's office and similar situations in the rest of the courthouse, there's not much wiggle room left.
McNelly says the board will see how these cuts go next year, and if they need to make any changes or restore some of the funding, they will.
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