The axe will fall Tuesday for more than two dozen New Hanover County employees. The layoffs are part of the county's effort to make up the 2008-2009 budget deficit. County Manager Bruce Shell said layoffs were the last resort, but Tuesday the county will layoff twenty-seven employees to make up the remaining portion of a $12 million budget deficit. “When you're the leader, you just have to make the tough decisions and look somebody in the eye,” said New Hanover County Commissioner Jason Thompson. Tuesday New Hanover county department heads will do just that. Twenty-seven county employees whose salaries total more than $1.5 million will be laid off to make up the remaining budget deficit. “These are very very draconian steps that we're having to take and the commissioners needed to be aware of it before I rolled it out,” said Shell. The county has already frozen forty-five positions, cut travel expenses and won't replace forty-two employees who opted for early retirement. That still wasn't enough to make up the entire budget deficit. For county employees it could be a long night. They won't be notified exactly who will be laid off until Tuesday. Shell declined to comment on details, but said the county will respond to the tough times ahead. “It'll be a tough struggle, but we've got a tremendous organization with a lot of professionals and they'll step up and rise to the occasion.” The 114 vacant positions that won't be filled account for about ten percent of the county's normal work force of over one thousand employees. Commissioner Jason Thompson said he's seen the layoffs coming for some time. “That's the way of the world today, it's not just governments every private business is having to cut back and lay off and reorganize, and I expected the county would have to do the same thing.” Shell will meet with the department heads Tuesday morning to discuss how the county will proceed. Affected employees will receive six weeks of severance pay.
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