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Employees of county taking survey on cuts

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Taxpayers aren't the only people who will feel the crunch by dropping revenues in the county coffers.

Gwinnett County's nearly 5,000 employees will feel the pain, too.

Employees are weighing now the most palatable way to cut compensation and benefits, filling out a nearly 50-page survey for a study.

None of the choices are good, officials admit, but in a time when a decreasing tax digest is expected to bring deficits of $10 million to $20 million for the next several years, leaders have said personnel costs have to be explored.

Salaries and benefits make up about 70 percent of the county budget.

"None of the options are good because they are all cost-cutting measures," Human Resources Director Kenneth Poe said. "We just want to find out from (employees) which might be more preferred."

According to a video played for employees as the survey was introduced, a task force is considering eliminating or reducing life insurance, tuition reimbursement and long-term disability plans and reducing the county share of health care and retirement plans.

Another possibility that could save $8 million is transferring all of the paid county holidays to furlough days. Officials converted four days this year, including Independence Day earlier this month.

According to Poe, employees have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to submit their survey.

In a matter of weeks, the task force is expected to give its recommendations to County Administrator Glenn Stephens.

Some of the moves -- especially regarding the retirement plans -- require a vote from the Board of Commissioners. Otherwise, Poe said, commissioners have a say through their consideration of the county budget, a process which has just begun.