Lincoln County to lay off 5 employees

STAR CITY — Five Lincoln County employees will be laid off as of July 1 and sixth worker will have her hours cut in half because of a decrease in state turnback funds.

To make the layoffs official, the Lincoln County Quorum Court on Monday passed an ordinance cutting funding in six offices and departments for the period between July 1 and Dec. 31.

The court met in a rare executive session for about 40 minutes at the start of the meeting before discussing the ordinance, which slashed the County’s Clerk’s office by $10,847.50, the circuit clerk’s office by $10,860, the assessor’s office by $10,550, courthouse maintenance by $3,900, the OEM coordinator by $6,500 and the solid waste department within the collector’s office by $10,933.12.

The measure notes that the $43,877.50 cut from the general fund and the $10,933.12 cut from the solid waste fund — which reflect six months of salary, retirement matching and health insurance payments from the laid off employees — were to be transferred from appropriated revenues into unappropriated revenues of the general fund.

The ordinance states, “Lincoln County is experiencing financial difficulty due to cuts in state funds, reimbursement funds having a longer turn around and tax funds being lower than anticipated for the year…”

Justices Edwin Branson, Kip Dutton, Brad Henley, Paul Carter, Lee Spikes, David Rochell and Phillip Thomas voted in favor of the ordinance, while Drew Steed cast the lone “no” vote. Justice Burl Dean Robertson was absent.

The word “layoff” was never mentioned during the meeting, however.

“We discussed personnel issues and they are contained in the ordinance,” said County Judge Charles Capps when the court reconvened. “We had a discussion, and the reason this transpired is because of our loss of revenue…Our county government is like any other government or entity, we operate on what we take in, taxes, fees and things, and our revenue is just not there. I hate it, but there comes a time. We’re no different than anybody else or any other entity.”

Capps discussed the layoffs after the meeting.

“Personally, this is bothering me more than anything I’ve done as judge. It hurts. It’s a devastation to them,” he said.