April 03, 2006

A County Hiring Freeze? When Hell Freezes Over

The Star-Ledger reported in Janurary that the County of Union had enacted a "hiring freeze."

The freeze was reported to prohibit departments from creating new positions or from filling any vacancies other than those left by emergency workers.

It’s been brought to the Union County Watchdog Association’s attention that this freeze was nothing more than a PR gimmick. The labor of personnel Web site shows several Union County positions are to be filled.


County declares a freeze on hiring
Mandated expenses are cited as problem
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Star-Ledger Staff

Union County is instituting its first hiring freeze in seven years, hoping to stabilize costs as officials begin work on the 2006-07 budget.
The freeze, announced Tuesday, prohibits departments from creating new positions or from filling any vacancies other than those left by emergency workers.
The measure stems from rising costs, including health care, pensions and energy, County Manager George Delaney said in a statement.
"These are mandated costs we must pay, and they are getting more expensive every year," Devanney said. "While we are examining and debating the new budget, we should be doing so in a prudent manner while maintaining a stable workforce total."
The county currently employs about 3,000 full- and part-time employees, compared with about 3,500 five years ago.
Taxes, however, have ballooned 40 percent since 2000. The county budget climbed from $306 million in 2000 to $390 million in 2005.
Devanney will submit his proposed budget for the 2006-07 fiscal year to the freeholder board later this month. County spokesman Sebastian D'Elia said it's too soon to predict the size of this year's increase.
"It is sizable enough for us to do something about it," he said.
Union County Republican chairman Phil Morin called the hiring freeze a step in the right direction.
"But I'd like to see the details and see if there would be true cost savings to taxpayers," he said.
D'Elia said figures were not yet available.
The freeze applies to all positions funded by county tax dollars. Several departments will be permitted to fill vacancies, including the office of emergency management, the county police department and Runnells Specialized Hospital, D'Elia said.
It took effect Tuesday and will continue until the freeholder board adopts a budget in the spring. Before voting on the budget, the board will hold public hearings.
"We will continue to seek ways to cut costs and come up with a budget that is honest, fair and humane," board chairman Al Mirabella said.