Council president hopes to avoid layoffs in 2014

Elkhart County Council president John Letherman has suggested shrinking local government staff through attrition.

Posted on Feb. 9, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Feb. 9, 2013 at 1:47 p.m.

GOSHEN — Just six weeks into 2013, members of the Elkhart County Council already plan to ask department heads to start thinking of ways to trim their budgets for next year.

Council president John Letherman has suggested reducing staff as one approach to saving money. He hopes the county can avoid employee layoffs in 2014 by shrinking government staff through attrition, freezing positions as people retire or leave their jobs.

“We’re going to be really struggling with the 2014 budget, it appears,” he said at the council’s meeting on Saturday, Feb. 9.

Letherman noted that many local governments are shedding personnel because of budget cuts.

“We want to try to do it by attrition,” he said. “The problem is they’re still rehiring.”

Conversations among county officials and department heads about staff will likely happen within the next month, Letherman said.

“We just want to be talking to people and preparing them,” he explained. “If we don’t see some changes from the legislature in funding streams, we’re just going to have to reduce staff. I don’t want to.”

The next step will be a joint meeting between the county council and commissioners, Letherman said.

“This is not a cause to get depressed or for alarm, but I think this is something we need to forecast, and we’re going to have to work through it and do the best job we can,” he said.

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