Hillsborough County cuts more jobs
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02/04/09 Mitch E. Perrry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

For the third time in a year and a half, there have been staffing cuts at Hillsborough County’s Building Services Division.

Peter Aluotto with the County’s Planning and Growth Management Department said 36 people have to lose their jobs because the office is currently running at a deficit of nearly $2 million.

The jobs cuts are a reflection of the housing crisis which is battering the nation. He said it would require raising fees 21 percent on permit applications, but said that wasn’t feasible. Nor, Alutoo said, would a furlough program be sufficient.

Employees would be terminated on March 13.

Even with the slowdown in the economy, Commissioners still complained about delays in building permits being acted upon.

Commissioner Jim Norman said that with the business cycle in dire straights, it’s unfathomable that the County is still working business as usual.

Commissioner Kevin Beckner read aloud a letter from the Building Services Division – the employees directly affected by the impending layoffs – that asked for a furlough instead of terminations.

But the County’s Budget Director, Eric Johnson, said that furloughing those employees had been explored, and dismissed.

The discussion on the County Commission then segued into what the board can do to stimulate the economy locally.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe said the Board and the state need to examine long-term solution. He said the priority should be to begin working on the language for the ballot referendum on light rail that is expected to go before county voters next year.

But Commissioner Jim Norman said the focus has to be bigger than a referendum that won’t be voted on for well over a year.

Ultimately, the Board decided to call in representatives from the building industry to query them about how the county can help generate business.

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