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JFS must live within means

Although $86,000 may sound like a lot of money to the average person, it is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to running a government office or paying employees who have healthy benefit packages.

That is something that AFSCME Local 3319A union members who work at the Lawrence County Department of Job and Family Services have to understand.

The union and director Gene Myers are at odds over how a slim surplus of less than $90,000 that came from one-time monies and savings should be utilized.

Myers wants to discontinue the policy of two mandatory furlough days a month per employee that was adopted last year as a cost-savings measure. The JFS union wants to see some of the 12 employees who were laid off last year be returned to work.

Unable to come to an agreement on their own, the two sides will meet with the county commissioners again next week to come to some sort of consensus.

We hope all sides look at the big picture and realize that this windfall of funds is only a Band-Aid and using it as proposed will essentially mask the problem or delay the inevitable.

These funds would be drained quickly if even two employees were brought back. The money would likely last less than a year.

What then?

They get laid off again.

We feel for all those who have lost their jobs. The reality is the agency will likely never get back to its prior staffing levels because of state cuts. The sooner it begins to realize that, and make operational changes accordingly, the better.

The smartest move may be to follow Myer’s recommendation, which would help because it would add allow employees to get a little more done each month.

We understand this agency is now stretched thin and remaining employees are having to do more work for less.

They aren’t alone. Those are the challenges being faced across the country.

But making short-term decisions primarily driven by emotions will only stifle long-term changes.