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JFS office to end cost savings days

Lawrence County Job And Family Services Director Gene Myers told the Lawrence County Commission Thursday he will end his employees’ twice-monthly furlough, or cost savings days today and bring his staff back to a 40-hour work week. He will also rehire three employees who were laid off last year.

Last summer, in response to $1.6 million in state funding cuts, Myers laid off a total of 20 people; those employees who remained were required to take a furlough, or cost-savings day, one Friday each pay period, a total of 18 since August 2009.

Myers said $86,000 in one-time funding will be used to pay for these changes until a new fiscal year begins July 1. Myers said he has a good indication what his budget will be in the coming year and, using the one-time funds, thinks he can manage both the 40-hour work week and the return of the three employees until then.

Myers said he plans to call back a telephone operator in early May. Two government assistance employees will be brought back in July.

“At this point, that’s what we’re committed to bringing back,” Myers said.

The commissioners indicated they were pleased with the moves.

“This should better serve people who need help,” Commissioner Doug Malone said.

Myers said he does not anticipate any employees retiring in the very near future, which has created vacancies that were filled with laid off workers.

This comes less than a month after JFS employees attended a commission meeting and expressed disapproval of Myers’ plans to spend all of the one-time money to end the furlough days.

They asked that laid off workers be brought back to work instead.

They contended their case load was overwhelming given the reduction in staff.

Myers at the time expressed concern about rehiring laid-off workers using one-time funds until he had some idea how much money he would have to work with next fiscal year.

Part of the one-time funding came from federal stimulus dollars.

The agency also managed to save approximately $50,000 in unemployment costs because some of the people who were laid off last year found a job elsewhere and some people left for personal reasons.