TOOELE COUNTY, Utah (ABC 4 News) – Money woes have resulted in the county firing 23 people on Tuesday, marking the third round of layoffs since August 2012.
The people affected are employed in the Parks and Recreation Department and the Maintenance Department. Those divisions have been eliminated and the county will only keep the department heads to hire contract or part time work.
Tooele County Spokesman Wade Mathews said the restructuring was necessary after months of cutbacks and spending freezes did not work.
The city is looking at about $850,000 in their budget at the end of March.
Darrin Cook, the county’s electrician, is part of the layoffs.
“It’s pretty nerve racking to see what they’re doing to people’s lives and families’ lives,” Cook said.
He feels the county didn’t make changes in prior years to avoid layoffs.
“People broke down and they were crying,” he said. “It’s hard for people to lose their jobs.”
Mathews said the county never wanted to fire people, but they were left with no other option. Plus, the county is expecting to only receive a portion of federal funds due to the sequestration.
He said about 80 percent of land in Tooele County is owned by the federal government and the government pays them money for it because that property is not taxed.
“We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Mathews said. “That goes in the General Fund and that’s what pays the county’s bills.”
Cook said his last day on the job is Saturday, along with the rest of the affected employees. They will receive two weeks of severance pay.
According to County Commissioner Shawn Milne, more layoffs will likely happen before the county begins to hire anyone back.