More than 100 job positions are, or will soon be, unfilled. As a result, departments are being restructured. Despite the changes, county leaders stress that public safety will not be compromised.
New Hanover County Manager, Bruce Shell, has had to make some tough decisions as he and his department tackles the county’s budget crunch. “It is difficult but it is the duty that we have and so we rise to the occasion to do what we need to do,” he said.
Forty-five positions have already been frozen for some time. Forty-two employees recently accepted an early retirement package. Tuesday, twenty-seven people were laid off. That is a total of 114 positions that will be unfilled.
Steve Smith oversees the 911 center. After 32 years with the county, he chose to take an early retirement package. Smith said, “With the incentive the county provided financially, it just seemed like a good time to do it.”
When Smith leaves, his department will be combined with the Emergency Management Department, currently overseen by Warren Lee. After the consolidation, Lee will manage both. “The department that I’ve had for the past six years has four of us. We’ll be adding 56 more members to our family,” said Lee.
The department heads said the transition should be seamless. “There won’t be any negative impact to the public, as far as public safety is concerned,” Lee said.
Shell added, “The important thing for the public is services will not be significantly reduced, it’ll be a little more challenging for the remaining employees.”
With 114 of their co-workers soon gone, everyone will have to pick up the slack.
Other changes within the county:
The Human Relations Department, which investigates unfair housing and employment discrimination claims, will close June 30th.
Also, starting in July, the county library will cut its hours.
New carpet for the Government Center
In the midst of the layoffs and department changes, something at the Government Center is catching the attention of some employees. New carpet is being put down.
County Manager, Bruce Shells, said it’s needed after the Water and Sewer Department moved to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority location. “We moved walls and we moved partitions and it left holes in the carpet and so people walking through there could easily trip, so we’re not replacing all the carpet, just the carpet in those areas,” said Shells.