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Jackson cuts 17 county positions
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Jackson County cut 16 full-time positions and one half-time position Friday in preparation for a tight fiscal 2011. Three other full-time positions are now part time.

The proposed budget will be presented Monday at the Jackson County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The move was anticipated in light of the economy and a declining tax digest. District 3 Commissioner Bruce Yates indicated at a Sept. 14 town hall meeting that county government streamlining was ahead.

Jackson County had more than 500 employees, with nearly 50 percent of those providing public safety-related services for residents.

County Manager Darrell Hampton said the reduction in force looked at positions, not personalities. County employees also will continue to see furlough days and forgo county contributions to retirement.

Finance Director John Hulsey and Hampton had to shave $4 million from a budget that included all employee benefits.

Hulsey said the move was part of "right-sizing" county operations. As part of its efforts to be more efficient, the county also will look at privatization and examining demand for services.

Hampton said when he and Hulsey spoke Friday morning with the department heads and elected officials about the reduction in force, they said neither had ever worked in this kind of budget situation.

"This is a very difficult time," said Hampton, acknowledging the reduction in force would have significant impact on a number of families.