County recalls some employees

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, July 13, 2011

About 10 social workers are heading back to work.

On Tuesday, the county board voted to bring back 10.5 of the 26 Human Services employees placed on involuntary leave after funding was assured through the state. The employees, all social workers except one accounting employee, should be at work in a few days.

“This doesn’t bring back all the state money that was in jeopardy, but it brings back a sufficient amount,” County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said.

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They’re not the only ones who’ve come back. Of the 13.55 employees in Public Health, only about 3.98 are still on involuntary leave, according to County Coordinator Craig Oscarson. In fact, only about six employees were put on leave before funding sources were secured, but Public Health Director Margene Gunderson said she was happy the employees are back.

“We obviously need to get our work done, so we’re pleased to be able to provide the service for people that live here,” Gunderson said.

While Gunderson said she’s happy to have many of the employees back, she echoed her criticism from previous board meetings, where she said the board should wait before making layoff decisions.

“I don’t know that we had enough information at that point to know what funding sources were going to remain,” she said

Despite being short staffed, Human Services Director Julie Stevermer said her office has been able to withstand so far.

“We’ve gotten through thus far,” Stevermer said.

Stevermer said it’s been a busy time for the employees still working.

“Those people that are working are truly work their tails off,” she said.

Once the state finally starts back up, the county’s Human Services would have lost at least $25,000 in revenue, according to Stevermer.

The funding, Stevermer said, is very complicated, so it’s not going to be a simple process in ensuring the offices can eventually move to normal. Once the state returns to work, the budget could mean serious cuts for Human Services.

“We know we have a lot of work cut out for us,” Stevermer said.

Like Stevermer, Gunderson said her department will soon have to deal with addressing cuts in the state’s final budget. Even though the cuts won’t all be good news, Gunderson said she hopes the state can reach an agreement soon.

“The sooner that we can get to that point, the better,” she said.