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County looking at layoffs due to economic impact from Covid-19

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 April 2020 at 6:16 pm

‘A perfect storm of financial difficulty for Orleans County’

ALBION — Orleans County legislators are looking at temporary layoffs in county government due to anticipated steep reductions in revenue.

Legislators will meet at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday to discuss the issue. They are hoping the labor unions among county employees will be a partner in a temporary layoff.

“We are trying to weigh all the factors involved here to do what’s right for our employees and the county taxpayers,” said Jack Welch, the county’s  chief administrative officer.

Welch and county legislators say the financial impact to the county from Covid-19 will be dramatic in 2020 and next year. Sales tax projections will be down at least $500,000 and perhaps much more, with state reimbursements also expected to be cut. Losses in the stock market also will likely mean higher pension contribution rates over the next several years.

“The 2 percent tax cap was made permanent in state law and tied to several state reimbursement formulas,” Welch said in a news release. “These factors come together to create a perfect storm of financial difficulty for Orleans County.”

County officials say a temporary layoff now could ease some of the damage to the county’s finances.

“This is not a course of action that we are pursuing lightly,” said Lynne Johnson, Legislature chairwoman. “Our employees and families are very important not only to county operations but to our community. This is a temporary action to help stabilize the situation. Our employees are our most valuable asset.”

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