Monday, September 01, 2014

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Albany County considers hiring freeze

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Albany/HV: Albany County considers hiring freeze
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A proposal to institute a hiring freeze in Albany County has been moved to the County Legislature's Audit and Finance Committee. The legislature sent the measure to the committee Monday night without a debate. It was proposed as a way to help close a $16 million deficit in next year's budget and would apply to all county departments. County Executive Dan McCoy has said without the freeze, he would have to lay off a significant number of employees. Our Solomon Syed has more on the proposal.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- County leaders say it's just an idea at this point, but they're looking at anything to get them out of their current fiscal mess, all while trying to save jobs even if they decide they can't add any more of them.

“We just cannot keep moving forward in the direction that we have," said Albany County Legislature Majority Leader Frank Commisso.

Commisso says the good days are over. The county simply can't afford to hire any new employees.

"Economic development is at a standstill, so things that were there before are no longer there," Commisso said.

What remains is a potential $16 million hole in next year's budget as the county tries to squeeze under a two percent property tax cap and comply with unfunded state mandates.

"I don't want to go through that. If we need somebody, we should be able to hire them," Albany County Legislature Chairman Shawn Morse said.

That's the view shared by Sheriff Craig Apple. His department already has 65 vacancies.

Apple said, "We're short. We need help at this point. We're tasked with court security. We're tasked with airport security up there. I mean, we have commitments, we have contracts in place. I need that manpower."

County Executive Dan McCoy sent a letter to several hundred employees warning they could be laid off if the county can't solve its fiscal problems. At the very least, the hiring freeze is viewed as a head start to prevent those layoffs.

"We have to take corrective measures and one of those measures is getting ahead of the curve with the budget," Commisso said.

Morse said, "We shouldn't be hiring anyone unless it's absolutely critical. That would be my recommendation to the legislature and I'm sure we'll find something that satisfies everyone."

The final county budget isn't due until November, so there is some time to hammer out the details. As for now, Chairman Morse says the hiring freeze resolution will be sent to the Audit and Finance Committee for more discussion.

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