During a tough budget year, Columbia County officials have found ways to save on personnel costs.
To balance the budget for this fiscal year, officials set a goal to reduce the county payroll by $236,000. As of this month, they've exceeded that goal by about $70,000.
"What we're trying to do is exponentially reduce our payroll," Deputy Administrator Scott Johnson said. "We're doing it by attrition, by merging departments, by reviewing positions, by hiring delays and just good management practices."
Though Johnson could not specify how much has been saved through attrition, he did say that the savings were substantial.
Once an employee quits, a committee of Johnson, Administrator Steve Szablewski and Finance Director Leanne DeLoach review the position to determine the most cost-effective course of action. Often, Johnson said, officials will fill the slot by promoting from within and not hiring anyone new to fill the vacated position. "To give you a promotion may be a total of $1,000 per year in promotion costs, but we saved $23,000 per year because we didn't fill the position," he said.
"Those are the strategies we're using. It's not just a matter of not filling a job. It's a matter of looking at every option: using the hiring delays, or restructuring when necessary."
During the past year, county officials restructured the Planning and Development department and eliminated Management Services by shifting those duties and personnel to other division directors.
For example, Management Services once oversaw such departments as human resources, IT, fleet management, and procurement. Now, those same departments are under the auspices of three different division directors.
"That restructuring saved more than $100,000 each year, and that's an annualized savings," Johnson said. "That isn't included in the $300,000 we saved this year, because that happened in the previous fiscal year.
"That will be a permanent savings to the taxpayers for years to come."
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