County CDD cuts positions


   A countywide slowdown in development this year resulted in bad news at the Jefferson County Community Development Department just before Christmas.
   After reviewing the department's revenue and expenditures for the year, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners made the difficult decision Dec. 21 to eliminate seven positions and reduce the hours of another.
   "It's always hard to let go good help, but it wasn't becasue we wanted to, but because we felt we had to," said Commissioner John Hatfield.
   Since the beginning of the year, expenditures have exceeded revenue for the department -- sometimes by a factor of two -- in every month except July.
   For example, in January of 2007, revenue was $60,156, compared to expenditures of $123,344. In November, revenue was at $54,235, and expenditures at $141,880, according to Kathie Rohde, county accounting manager.
   Through November, the department was in the red by about $382,000 for the calendar year. "It's been trending down since July of 2006," she said.
   Following an executive session Dec. 21, the commission unanimously voted to eliminate three tech I positions (one of which was vacant); two building inspector II positions (one vacant); one part-time staff assistant I position (vacant); and one building inspector III position (vacant).
   Another job, code enforcement, was reduced from 40 to 30 hours per week. However, the county created a tech II position, which will include sanitation.
   The cuts leave the department with just under 12 full-time positions.
   "The revenues are way down from the decline in construction, and the reserves were falling very rapidly," said Hatfield. "We'd run out of reserves and run out of money to pay bills."
   The eliminated positions are not the only changes in the CDD. At the end of December, senior planner Sandy Mathewson is retiring. Mathewson has held that position since July of 2004. The county has already begun the search for her replacement.
   The department is led by Margaret Boutell, who started work in September, replacing Chris Gannon, who had resigned in May.