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More NHC cuts announced

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New Hanover County has to tighten its belt more than its been doing for the past several months. County Manager Bruce Shell announced today that further measures will be taken to ensure the county avoids financial trouble. By the end of June, the county has to cut three million dollars from its budget. For months, travel and training have been cut, and of the county's 1500 jobs, about 50 open positions haven't been filled. Shell said that has saved about one million dollars, but the county now needs to take it a few steps further. Starting today, long-time employees have two weeks to decide whether to accept an early retirement package. Depending on how many accept that offer, layoffs may come next. "With this downturn, it was really a proactive approach to take steps now rather than wait until all the numbers come in and then being in a reactionary mode," Shell said. It was also announced today that all county employees will have to take five unpaid days off between now and the end of June. This could affect the county's emergency services like the 911 center and the fire and sheriff's department. Shell said they're very limited in where they make cuts there, but they will work to see where they can save.

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How about this to raise

How about this to raise money. Every one that goes to the strip clubs pays a extra one dollar to get in, this money goes straight to the county. If you buy any alcohol you pay a extra 20 percent tax on ALL alcoholic beverages this money goes to county. If you smoke you pay a extra one dollar per pack of tax this money goes to county. I you own a boat in new hanover county you pay 5 dollars per foot tax. the thoughts are endless is what I'm trying to say WHY not budget within the county's means and please if we have to let AIRLIE gardens die its a county money sucker anyway.

The entire Country

The entire Country is suffering. It's not only New Hanover County. As a small business owner, I too have had to lay people off and cut back hours. In my case it's not poor planning it's the lack of work period. And at the end of the day, it will cost me more to lay people off as I will be put at a higher rate for unemployment taxes, afterall the Government does not pay for that, we as HONEST tax payers do. I assure you I would'nt get a cushy job if I didn't pay $140m in taxes and the IRS would have me under the jail if they didn't take all I own away first. Ask Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden why they felt the need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to take 2 yes 2 Jets to Colorado to sign a spending bill that will do nothing for the American people as a whole. You might see 13.00 in your check. Ask the Congress and Senate why did they and their staffers take a retreat to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars rather than reading the hundreds of pages of this no good spending bill, how do they know what's in it. If you think it will pay your mortgage, think again, if you think it will pay your light bill think again. People who believe in this are dead wrong. Mr. Obama's SCARE tactics worked, he and his Democrats will further enjoy spending while we hard working people will suffer and worry how will we make it through . This mess will cost generations to come. To those of you that put Mr. Obama in office, Thank You. Have you received your check yet??? I bet not.

A brief note on why the

A brief note on why the Pesident and the Vice-President travel separately: If some disasterous event were to result in the loss of both, the Presidency would pass to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, currently Nacy Pelosi. I thought you might gain some comfort from that fact.

They do travel separate

Thank you for the reminder I understand that, but still to question why they both had to attend. And did you see how many pens it took to sign into law certain disaster?? 4 or 5. And I am quite sure they were not cheap pens from office depot. And yes I do take comfort in knowing that Pelosi will not become President at the hands of a tragedy. God forbid she get the title of Ms. President. I would much rather see Minnie Mouse than Pelosi. She's a real moron

You are so very right. Most

You are so very right. Most of the money is just going to shore up state Medicaid funds and to extend unemployment benefits. As far as the infrastructure money that is supposed to create jobs, that portion is a joke. There was a story on ABC this morning where a town that built a bridge during the Great Depression in another bailout was waiting for the stimulus to be signed so they could sign a contract to replace the bridge. 8.1 million dollars to be spent on this bridge and how many jobs is it creating? Thirty. That's $270,000.00 per job, when we are losing 20,000 jobs per day in this country. The bridge needs replaced, there is no doubt about it but when our great grandchildren will be paying on this debt, the money could have been better spent than this. Pelosi and Reid sat on their hands for two years with a Democratic majority in both houses instead of working on the economy until it has sunk so low we may never recover back to the point where we were. I would also like to know why the bill was signed in Denver. Obama could have simply signed the bill in DC instead of trying to use it as a photo op at an expense to the US taxpayers. Factor in the cost per hour to use those jets. It is nothing but waste. I believe that four years from now the next President will find an even worse mess to deal with.

Ok Folks... let's focus here.

Hi... uh yeah, that Washington stuff is nice and all and oh how I love a good political soapbox. But let's get back on what's really important here and the focus of this whole thread...me and my co-workers. ;-)

Some observations on the county time-off mandate:

1. You lead from the front. If the newest, lowest-paid county employee is going to face a five-day unpaid leave, every single county employee should face that same requirement. County (and city) managers may have a contracted salary that technically exempts them, but if they have any concept of leadership and integrity, they, too, will give back five days' salary. 2. One would hope that the county has eliminated ALL discretionary, unessential, and "nice-guy" spending before they mandate unpaid time off. For example, are we still funding the soccer league? What can we "do without" for a year? Now, so as not to disappoint you people who think I'm a cold-hearted S.O.B..... 3. Sheriff, fire, and EMS can ALL survive quite well without any lapse in servive due to this mandate. It's TWO-PERCENT of the work-year, and if properly scheduled will have no more effect than an employee calling in sick one day. or taking a week's vacation. 4. If losing two-percent of your pay poses a financial hardship upon you, you had better sit down and figure out what you're doing wrong, because your life is a financial mess. Unlike Washington, we can't simply print more money, and have to tighten the belt. My bet, however, is that there's a LOT more fat that could be trimmed before anyone has to take time off. Perhaps we might consider selling Airlie Gardens and free that red-ink-albatross from our necks? Sure, the gardens are beautiful, but so are a new Lamborghini and a six-foot tall platinum-blonde model/girlfriend. All three, however, might not be the smartest way to spend our money right now...

Knew this was coming...

You knew this was coming didn't you? I can only imagine how much time in a day you are checking this blog to see if someone has commented on one of your blogs of the day. WWAYtv3.com is in your favorites isn't it? Poor thing, it's all you have. Well I wouldn't want to disappoint you. So you say, "Sheriff, fire, and EMS can ALL survive quite well without any lapse in servive due to this mandate." Well I certainly am glad that you know ALL the emergency service people in the county personally. You must be the man to call if I need a good emergency contact. I can only imagine your Christmas list!! Don't speak for others. You have no idea what most emergency workers go through in a days time. You can't even begin to imagine the stress of the average EMS/Fire/Deputy/Dispatcher. You say that it is the equivalent of calling in sick a day or using a vacation day. Well.. I don't do either. In ten years of service, I've never called in sick. Not once. I can't even tell you when I've been on vacation last. So don't throw it in my face like it's an everyday event. It might be for you, but that's not included in my work ethic. You did have one thing right though, there is a lot of fat that can be cut. Offering an early retirement severance benefit was actually a good idea and should be kept in place even after this fiasco. Now if people would take advantage of it, this county would be in a better place. Use you voice!

Mr. Shell, although I

Mr. Shell, although I commend you for taking your 5-days without pay, but seriously, making in excess of $165,000 - is it going to make a difference? Let me help you ... No! It's not, you'll never miss it like the many county employees are are living paycheck to paycheck. Those are the employees, the families, the kids you're taking that money from. I certainly agree that cuts have to be made in order to maintain a balanced budget but making such a decision for drastic cuts across the board to affect EVERY county employee displays a lack of knowledge when it comes to what services county government provides and how that affects the many tax paying citizens of the county. No county employee would probaly volunteer to take such a cut but some services are easier cut that others. Public Service to include 911 / Fire & Law Enforcement aren't the services that can afford to be cut. It's absolutely ridiculous that these services are being cut in the same manner of other county services. As a citizen of this fine county it would seem logical that cuts be made without endangering the lives and property of this county. I mean, we turned our back on the Tax Administrator (who's not solely at fault) but did't help our current situation. No where in this budget assistance program have I seen where we're taking money from the contingency fund?? Just something to ponder.

budget cuts/ first responders

These people should not have their hours cut. They are undermanned now. What would happen if there were a catastrophy such as a plane crash, hurricane, terrorist attack?? Our first responders cannot do their job in a timely manner with the cuts being made. Has everyone forgotten 911? We have gone back to the pre-911 mentality. Does anyone remember NYFD and other First Responders being hauled before Congress and questioned for days about "what went wrong"..."why didn't they respond sooner"..."why weren't they prepared"?? I wonder if Presidenet Obama would be held to the same level of accountability as President Bush should something happen and our First Responders were unable to perform their jobs because of these cuts?

check this out

Is making employees give up 40 hours even legal. And the Deputies that work on the road answering your calls dont even get breaks...they dont get a lunch..wilmington police officers get to check away from the radio for a dinner break and they dont even work 12 hour shifts. And a questions for the county what happened to the money that was so called budgeted for my salary this year..where was it spent........do we really need a convention center!!!!!!! and what cuts have county leaders given to help out....

Hhhmm.... like homicide?

Oh.. you mean like the three homicides that happened within a week from each other? Or the three vehicle accident with fatalities that kept the EMS/Fire for overtime? I can see it now... "I'm sorry citizen of New Hanover County, I can't help you or your family today because I'm being forced to take a week off without pay by the people that are supposed to be looking out for the county's best interest." Thanks New Hanover County!

spread it out

Don't take a whole day off (unless you are forced to) but take off 3 hours a week. From now (Feb 17) there are 15 weeks until June. That will put you with more than the required 40 hours off without that much of a weekly impact. Just think, make it a long lunch three times a week, leave early on Friday.

Sorry, but that won't work

Sorry, but that won't work for those in emergency services (police, EMS, fire)

Long Lunch?

Emergency respondes do not get LUNCH. 911 dispatchers work 12 hour shifts and get 3 breaks 10 min long. No lunch breaks.

sorry

Sorry I couldn't come up with a one size fits all plan. What ideas do you have?

How about this...

Why don't you start by developing a plan to reimburse those that suffer from the mistakes of others. I received your little double-sided letter of intent. Although a seasoned public relations person would say that it was well written but stern, I notice that it is a cowards way to finding solutions. If this RIF (reduction in force), as it was so eloquently phrased, will damage the livelihood of others temporarily, in some plan to get finances back on order, than so be it. BUT, at least develop an after-action plan to rehabilitate the damage that was caused. Nowhere in the plan did I see that. One thing that master businessmen do is attempt to soften the blow after the fact to appease people... here let me explain with an example... You know how gas goes from $2.00/ gal. steadily up to $3.00 a gallon and how angry everyone was. Then it would creep back down to $2.85 and everyone rejoiced b/c it was such a relief. HELLO PEOPLE it's still an .85 cents per gallon gain!! Then it skyrockets to $4.00 a gallon and then back down a few cents... and the people rejoice! WHY!!!! I'll tell you why, it's a play on the empathetic nature of the human condition. Don't be fooled people!

N.M.J.

I could easily say I won't develop your plan because it is Not My Job, but that is too easy. How about I don't work for the county. Instead I came up with a way that can benefit most but not all county employees to take the required time off without taking a large pay hit at once. Sorry it doesn't fit every employee. There are always special circumstances that may require more attention. Again, that was what I came up with, what do you have?

Human life is not negotiable...

First off I'd like to say Thank You to the citizens of New Hanover County who support your local emergency service workers. It's people like you who keep us motivated to do our job well. Secondly, I understand that there are steps that need to be taken to save money in an economic shortfall that NH County faces (thank you too Mr. Tax Man). However, the solution that your County Commissioners have created includes limiting the public's right to vital and essential emergency public service. Forcing an already short-handed staff to take additional non-paid days off doesn’t benefit the public in any way. Citizens of this county depend greatly on emergency services (EMS, 911, Sheriffs, Fire) to give it their all when called upon and deserve nothing but the best service possible. Think about it this way… think about a time when you (the public) needed EMS, a Sheriff, a Fireman, or even called 911 for help of some kind? Were you frustrated with the service? If not, you will be now and if you were frustrated then it’ll only get worse. Emergency service is not a bargaining tool and there’s no room for negotiating when it comes to saving lives. No person in emergency services is doing it for the money or the glamour… they do it because they genuinely care about helping people and dedicate their life to it. Is human life negotiable? It apparently is to your County Commissioners and to your County Manager / Managing Team. The public can trust that I know what I speak of because I am one of the all-encompassing NH County employees who received that dreaded white sheet of paper that said we will be forced to take off 40 hours of work and will not be paid for it in any way… not even with earned vacation time. Speaking of vacation, NH employees will not be able to earn any vacation time until at least July ’09. For much of NH employees that is an additional 22-25 hours that is being raped from them and their families with NO plan of reimbursement whatsoever. In spite of the forced time off and the extremely limited service that the citizens of this county will be getting from now until who-knows-when, I vow to continue serving the New Hanover County family of citizens with vigor and superiority to the best of my now-restricted ability. Oh… one last thing. I know that there will be those of you who bring up the fact that city employees may not be getting raises this year. Well FYI, your New Hanover Sheriff’s Dept. did not receive raises last year and certainly will not be getting any raises any time soon. Your county manager makes over $165,000 a year.

Backwards...

This is just another example of how backwards NC is.... no breaks? forcing people to take time off from their already well underpaid jobs? why don't we just legally take their health care and take all of their retirement/401K accounts and throw them in the county's general fund as well. This place makes me sick. I'm from here and can't get over how we have never learned how to treat our employees properly in this state. It's not the employees' fault the downturn happened in the economy.... These people that work for the county already make at least $20,000 below what they should in most instances.. just look at it. admin ass'ts making $20,000, sup's making $30,000, general employees still in the 20's as well? What is wrong with this place? NC as a state should learn to pay their employees more in the first place and then maybe this whole unpaid thing would be a bit more acceptable.

NHS/FIRE/911

As an employee and resident of NHC I have to add a comment. The bottom line is that NHS/FIRE/911 employees are essential emergency personnel. Cutting back employees from these agencys WILL put peoples lives and property in danger. The 911 center requires at a minimum 11 people to staff the center. If we lose employees either from layoffs or from furlough someone will get hurt. Can you imagine the law suits? Seek the budget cuts from non emergency agencies first. If more cuts are required consider cutting part time employees and employees who are still in training.

Cutting back Fire and 911

This is so rediculous.....for starters it is not the employees fault that the budget was done wrong so maybe the commissioners should take a pay cut to solve what they screwed up!!! Also, if you cut back the fire and 911 center you will hurt the citizens of New Hanover County. Who will take the calls for the fire, crime etc? And who will go to put out the fires and solve the crimes to make our county a better place to live? This is uncalled for and the ones responsible for this screw up should pay!!! Not our employees who run this government!!!

....but if they don't cut emergency services.....

...they'd have to cut DSS. That would fly in the face of The New America, where government is responsible for being your mommy and shepherding you through life from cradle to grave.

Regarding the short staffing

Regarding the short staffing and the unpaid days off. Unfortunately, when the economy is in a downturn, revenues of all types decrease. The county is bringing in less money through property taxes due to foreclosures. Due to the unemployment and decreased retail spending, the county is making less money on sales tax. Certain aspects of the budget were probably already stretched to the limit due to the high energy prices over the past couple of years. Unfortunately, and I don't work for NHC but I do have a degree in accounting and have also worked in human resources, you have one of two options. You either eliminate already existing positions, which means some people totally lose their jobs. Or else, you make cutbacks as far as hours, wages, or benefits. That way, everyone stays working albeit at a reduced income. As far as breaks are concerned for 911 workers, it is unfortunate that people in stressful positions like this do not have more respite but the labor laws of NC only require breaks for employees who are under 16 years of age. There is no legal or civil relief for this and the DOL will simply tell you to change jobs, which in many cases is not an option. If the city gives more breaks that are less than thirty minutes, they are required to pay the employee through those breaks and therefore they would consider that a loss of revenue. Many businesses use breaks instead of unpaid lunches so they can fit a set amount of shifts in a 24 hour period (12 hr shifts in this case). As far as requiring sherriffs deputies to take unpaid days off, the dept. is most likely to schedule these days on traditionally days of lower criminal activity in order to maintain full force on the weekends or other times of high activity. Although everyone is expected to sacrifice, this prevents actually laying off a number of deputies. Economic downturns can be devastating for not only individuals but also on city and state levels. It affects everyone, both directly and indirectly. The only other option to the budget shortfall would be to increase taxes and fees to make up the lost revenue. That option would not make anyone happy.

I guess it's great being at

I guess it's great being at the top of the food chain....seeing how nobody at the top is being hurt by these cuts. They are still getting their full share of pay and not losing any time or benefits.

I have a couple

I have a couple questions/concerns. First of all, from what I am getting from this, Sheriff's deputies will have to take 5 days off without pay...meaning they will lose anywhere from $800-$1,000 in pay. Same goes for 911 operators and Fire personnel. On top of that, several of these departments are already short at certain positions and now they will even be shorter. That's great, let the lives of your citizens suffer. That sounds smart to me. My question is...are County Commissioners taing a paycut as well to help out with this problem? Are they going to be taking days off without pay to help out? Somehow I seriously doubt it....maybe WWAY could ask them.

To a couple of questions...

It's not just Sheriff's Deputies that have to take off 5 days without pay, it's ALL New Hanover County employees. For those of us, like myself, who are married to someone who works for the county as well, we are losing ten days of pay in the next four months, through no fault of our own. Lovely. I have a feeling the county commissioners did not consider our scenario when coming up with this "solution".

Oh I agree...I just have

Oh I agree...I just have friends that work in LEO so I made my comments about them. Our newly elected officials are a joke

Right there with ya....

I work in the 911 center. My husband also works for New Hanover County but in a different department. Our work schedules are frequently at opposition, and that means we don't always get to see each other as much as we'd like. We will both be affected by the 5 days each, and we'll also be affected by lower leave accrual. Does ANY of this make me happy? Certainly not. But you know what? I'm thankful for my job. I'm thankful for my husband's job. Even though we are going to feel the double whammy since we both serve the county, I am still grateful to be employed. Yes, I work 12 hour shifts, and yes, I get 3 10-minute breaks. Would I like more? Sure. Who wouldn't? But I don't see the point in griping about it. I was told before I accepted the job what to expect. Clearly that was acceptable to me because I'm still an employee. I'm sorry that you will also feel the double pinch from a spouse working for the same employer. However, I'm also thankful that you both have jobs. In such uncertain times, I'd HATE to have to be out job-hunting right now. This is a tough area to find a good job when the economy is GOOD, much less when times are strained like these. To my supervisors and the admin at my department, thank you for your support. To the county personnel who will have to make very diificult decisions in the coming days, thank you for trying to find measures to help alleviate layoffs. To my fellow county employees who decide to take early retirement, thank you for your sacrifice. To the citizens of New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington, thank you for giving me a job. It's an honor to serve.

Losing ten days of pay

Losing ten days of pay stinks, but it's better than getting layed off and trying to hunt for a job these days.