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Our view: Hiring freeze
a reminder of economic rough patch

Need more evidence that the economy is worsening? Look no further than Thursday's announcement that the Gwinnett County government is implementing a hiring freeze of 77 open positions.

This week, the county joined the penny-pinching crowd, the effects of high gas prices and other spiraling costs causing local government to do like the rest of us - look for places to save.

With revenues flat and expenses up about 8 percent, according to Chairman Charles Bannister, the county has mandated the hiring freeze. The open positions will save the county about $4.5 million, according to County Administrator Jock Connell, who also asked elected officials such as the district attorney and tax commissioner to put a freeze on eight positions, which would save $700,000 more.

The freeze will not include police officers or sheriff's deputies, and the county will continue recruitment to fill 54 vacancies for sworn police officers, two corrections officers, 10 firefighters and 13 sheriff's deputies.

Due to the rising cost of fuel, officials have already started several conservation methods, including asking police officers to turn off their engines and restricting firefighters from traveling to public relations events. We're pleased that county officials are taking these steps and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars in these tough times.

But as with most belt-tightening, there are ramifications to the cutbacks. And that's something to remember the next time you do business with the county or have to wait in line at a county facility. Like the rest of us, they're doing their best to handle this economic downturn.

The unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Columns, letters to the editor and cartoons reflect the opinions of the individuals who penned them. It is the policy of the Gwinnett Daily Post to correct all errors of fact. Corrections usually run on Page 4A.