Cabarrus County has cut 76 jobs and reduced library and park hours to deal with an expected $6.2million revenue shortfall next fiscal year and a poor economy that county officials say precludes any tax increase.
Affected county employees were notified Monday that their positions have been eliminated.
Twenty-six full-time and 39 part-time employees were laid off. Eleven of the eliminated positions were vacant.
Libraries were hit particularly hard, losing 16 part-time library pages and eight part-time library assistants.
All Cabarrus County libraries now close at 7 p.m. weekdays. All libraries, except the Mount Pleasant library, are closed Fridays. The Harrisburg and Mount Pleasant libraries no longer have Saturday hours. The Concord and Kannapolis branches are alternating Saturday hours. Four part-time park rangers also lost their jobs.
All Cabarrus parks now close one hour earlier, including Frank Liske, Camp T.N. Spencer, North Cabarrus and Pharr Mill Road parks.
Weekday operations have been discontinued for the miniature golf course, concessions and paddle boats at Frank Liske Park. Those activities will be available only on Saturdays and Sundays April through October. Paddle boats at Camp T.N. Spencer Park are discontinued.
Critical county services weren't affected by the job cuts, including Emergency Medical Services and the Sheriff's Office, County Manager John Day said.
Other services deemed noncritical were eliminated or reduced, he said.
The county, for instance, will no longer administer the sedimentation and erosion control program for the state. The program has been returned to the Mooresville office of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Day said.
Full-time employees and part-timers who worked at least 20 hours weekly who were laid off will remain on the county payroll and receive full benefits for 30 days. But they have been placed on administrative leave and will not report to work.
After 30 days, those workers will receive severance pay equal to five months' salary.
"Unfortunately, there were no other viable options," Day said in announcing the job cuts and reduced library and park hours last week. "I really hate that we had to lay off these folks. They're all fine people and have contributed a lot to the county."
Day said the county knew four years ago that a gap between expenses and revenues would exist in fiscal 2011, which starts this summer.
The county planned for the gap by proposing a property tax increase and a sales tax referendum to offset costs of school construction and other capital projects, he said.
But with 1,400 foreclosed homes and an unemployment rate of 12.1percent, the county can't consider a tax increase this year, Day said.
The eliminated positions were selected based on the service requirements of each county department, Day said.
Job functions have been spread among remaining staff members "to provide minimal disruption of services to the community," he said.
The layoffs cut next year's projected shortfall by about $2.4million, Day said.
That still leaves a budget gap of about $3.8million, but no more layoffs are expected, Day said. The county is looking for savings in other areas, he said.
County management, for instance, is considering alternatives for the proposed construction of a satellite campus, and construction of Rob Wallace Park in Midland will be delayed, he said.
Furloughs also are being considered.
The county also is offering an incentive to encourage eligible employees to retire. Employees in the Local Government Employees Retirement System who retire by Dec. 31 will receive a payment equal to three months' salary.
Day said it's too early in budgeting work to know what other measures will be taken.
The county must adopt its fiscal 2011 budget by June 30.