County to reduce workforce

Bartholomew County plans to reduce its employee workforce using attrition.

Workforce reduction without resorting to layoffs is one of several steps the county will undertake next year to address an anticipated $1 million shortfall in the 2017 budget.

As a result, open positions in three departments — one each in building maintenance, surveying and information technology — will not be filled, county officials said.

However, Bartholomew County Council President Evelyn Pence said there is no actual goal about how many retiring workers won’t be replaced in 2016.

A few county officials first used the number 10 during last summer’s budget talks to describe the number of additional employees the county has hired in recent years, Pence said. During subsequent conversations, that same figure began to be used informally by a few officials to describe the number of retirees anticipated next year, she said.

However, the council president emphasized no actual goal has been adopted.

“We’re not out trying to get rid of anyone,” Pence said. “It’s a normal attrition program.”

But the council will require each department head to present a strong case to show why a retiring employee needs to be replaced in 2016, the council president said.

The only county personnel that will be exempt are those working for the Sheriff’s Department and the 911 Emergency Operations Center, Pence said.

The council will look closely at avoiding duplication of services, as well as identifying work that can handled more efficiently through technology, Pence said.

Pence, who expects to be succeeded by Bill Lentz as council president next month, has advocated using resources offered by Cummins Inc. to have each county department undergo a Six Sigma evaluation with the aim of reducing costs and improving quality.

Those departments that have undergone such an evaluation and still need to fill a position will make a more valid case than those that haven’t, she said.

“Most people didn’t think it was that serious,” Pence said. “But we have to improve our efficiency. We are not an industry, and we have to be very careful when using tax money.”

In other budget-related decisions, county council members reached a consensus that they will not provide a stipend to 64 part-time county workers who are not covered by the county’s health insurance plan.

Last month, the council agreed to pay up to 379 full-time, health-care-eligible employees $750 next year.

But since the one-time bonus was specifically made to offset increased insurance costs, most council members didn’t feel there was a justifiable reason to pay more to those not covered by the plan.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.