Layoffs, furlough follow $30 million deficit in Lucas County budget

Published: May. 19, 2020 at 8:27 PM EDT
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A $30 million budget shortfall for Lucas County is being blamed on COVID-19's economic impact, meaning a fifth of the 2020 budget needs to be slimmed down by the end of the year.

At Tuesday's Board of Commissioners meeting, layoffs and furloughs in every county department were announced. The move to slash jobs affects more than 200 people, including both bargaining and non-bargaining units. It takes effect June 8th.

"Extreme peril" is the phrase used to describe plummeting sales tax revenue right now in Lucas County. Sales tax fuels the county's budget as the major funding source. Officials say even if the entire rainy day fund was drained, it wouldn't be enough to make up the $30 million loss brought on by COVID-19.

The county has only about six months to dig out of that significant hole.

"It's very hard. It never feels good to lose salaries, to lose your pay, to work hard and get paid less, but it is a crisis. This is unprecedented. It is not only a health crisis, but it became and is a financial crisis," said Lucas County Board of Commissioners President Tina Wozniak.

Wozniak says every department is adjusting in order to reduce 20 percent of the budget. For all three commissioners, that means five furlough days between June 8 and December 19 and four layoffs in the department.

Other department leaders decided to take more furlough days to reduce the number of positions lost.

"We're finding different ways of not filling positions of keeping positions that are vacant, but were budgeted, we're removing those. We're actually removing real people that had real jobs that are real public servants and they were doing a very good job," said Wozniak.

Despite the massive cuts, Wozniak says the goal is to continue to provide high quality service, and she encourages everyone in the county to apply for any government relief they're eligible for.

"These are tough times. If we can receive some stimulus funds from the federal government to help us cut fewer dollars that would be terrific, but we're being responsible," she said.

This is a fluid situation with a moving target. Wozniak says more cuts could be coming this year and next.