Hamilton County rehires 10 following layoffs

Hamilton County rehires 10 following layoffs

August 11th, 2011 by Ansley Haman in News

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger speaks during the County Commission meeting after releasing his 2011-12 fiscal budget that included laying off 37 people.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Ten of the 36 Hamilton County workers laid off in this year's budget cycle have been rehired in other county positions.

In July, the Hamilton County Commission approved about $13 million in budget cuts, ending several programs and cutting funding for the employees who administered them. The three dozen layoffs came after the expiration of a 45-year sales tax sharing agreement with Chattanooga that would have provided more than $10 million to the county this year.

The rehired workers were able to fill other county positions, particularly jobs that did not require a highly specialized skill set or a professional license, Mayor Jim Coppinger said.

Though this year's cuts were deep, Coppinger said they were necessary to prevent future tax increases.

"We made real tough decisions this year," he said. "We cut a little more than we had to so we don't have to do it again next year."

Hamilton County Commissioner Larry Henry

Hamilton County Commissioner Larry Henry

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Commission Chairman Larry Henry said the layoffs were the county's first since the mid-1980s.

Henry said the budget process was one of the most difficult he's experienced but that it had a positive side -- allowing the county to reduce the size of government.

"We started with everything on the table," Coppinger said. "We looked at all the programs we were required to do by law."

The budget cut employees from human services, the health department and public works. The county ended a teen pregnancy program and a mosquito-control program.

The county did not provide information by press time about what positions the 10 employees filled.

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