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County has hiring, spending freeze

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By Lou Elliott Jones

It's official: County employees will not receive a pay raise in the coming year, but no layoffs or reduced work hours are anticipated. Department heads have been hiring and spending are frozen. In a memo sent to all county department heads dated Aug. 5, Levy County Coordinator Fred Moody said, "Due to the budget forecast for next fiscal year, 2010-2011, all spending is to be curtailed except those expenses absolutely essential to the operation of your department such as payroll, utilities, communications, vehicle/equipment use, etc. "We must carry forward as much cash as possible in order to survive next year.  While there will be no salary increases for yet another year, no layoffs or reduction in hours are anticipated at this time." He reminded employees that the county is retaining all benefits and is paying an 11.8 percent increase in employee health insurance in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. "As for hiring, we have not been replacing those who have left unless it was, or is, absolutely necessary.  As for positions that need to be filled, we must try to fill those from other departments that may be in jeopardy of having to reduce their staff due to budget constraints in the future," Moody said in the memo. The county coordinator thanked the department heads and their employees for their dedication and service to citizens during such difficult times.   "The Board members appreciate all your efforts and with all of us working together we will continue to succeed," he said. Commission Chair Nancy Bell has been warning in recent budget meetings that the state's negative population growth and the county's unemployment rate —  13.1 percent in June — means the county's economic situation is dire.