Williamsburg County Supervisor Dr. Tiffany Wright has been working on a plan that is expected to save the county nearly $1.5 million by July 2022. Wright said they would have saved $1,564,939 if things were different. However, she wouldn’t elaborate on the details of her statement. The Consolidation Plan includes combining departments and lay-offs effective January 2021.
Departments that will be combined are:
Executive Assistant/ Clerk to Council; Tax Assessors/Addressing; Recreation/Building; and Grounds/Solid Waste (2 people). Current employees will be retrained to handle additional job duties. She said there are no plans to fill vacant positions unless there is an emergency.
According to Wright, 13 people have been furloughed since April. Ten will be laid off effective January 2021. Three people are under other elected officials, which she does not have direct control whether or not they will return. In the Supervisor’s Office command staff (between retired and laid-off) four people will not return and one was transferred out of the general fund. One position in the Treasurer’s Office and three positions in the Sheriff’s Office will not be filled.
Wright said 11 people that were under the general fund retired. Of those, five people are expected to return, one of which is under the Sheriff’s Office, two individuals have special certifications, two did not return and one will be brought back as a consultant. Two are under other elected offices for which a decision has not been made to lay-off.
Wright acknowledged the difficult decisions she has had to make. “This is one of my darkest days,” Wright said in a press release. “No leader ever wants to make decisions of this kind, but it was a necessary evil. I know that if we don’t take heed to what the financial advisors and the auditors have been saying for many years, then we would end up in a terrible financial position.” Wright said though this may not be the cure to the county’s problems, it’s a step in the right direction. “It was either pass these expenses on to the taxpayer or work more efficiently,” she said.
Wright also said if they can stay within the current budget at the initial 15% reduction and receive all reimbursements back from COVID-19 related expenses then they may see some savings. “FEMA no longer paying for any re-opening expenses and the CARES Act funding expiring November 15, 2020, means limited items will be reimbursed,” she said. “I am hoping that we can still keep people safe while staying within our budget. The lack of reimbursement opportunity forced us to make these decisions in an attempt to get ahead of the problem and to save our county from financial distress.” These are considered Phases 1 and 2 of the plan. Wright said she would begin to evaluate issues in Phase 3, which includes consolidating county assets.