By Ray King
The Jefferson County Quorum Court on Tuesday approved an ordinance mandating a 30 percent workforce reduction which will be accomplished through furloughs for many of the county’s departments.
Appearing on the Oldies 101.3 morning show Wednesday, County Judge Gerald Robinson said he didn’t know if the 30 percent would be enough, considering that anticipated revenues are projected to decline as a result of the Corona virus.
The original ordinance was amended after Sixth Division (Juvenile) Circuit Judge Earnest E. Brown Jr., announced that he had signed up his employees for a shared work program similar to what the City of Pine Bluff adopted.
Robinson said at a meeting with elected officials last week, he told them that if they had if they could come up with other solutions to reduce county expenses instead of furloughs to do so and said Brown was the only one to do the research and offer a plan. At the meeting Tuesday night, both Tax Collector Tony Washington and Assessor Yvonne Humphrey proposed using funds they have on hand to pay employees. The county’s legislative body agree to give the other elected officials a week, until May 11, to present their plans to Robinson.
“Whether it will be accepted or not is still unknown, but we need to get through this,” Robinson said. “We know that the revenues will be short. That’s a fact. If we don’t start this course now, we will take it late and it may be permanent.”
Robinson also talked about why the furloughs were necessary.
He said he has already furloughed employees in his department, effective May 1 and sat down with them to help them through the process of filing for employment.
“I will say, many of them, when they got up from the table, pretty much all of them said ‘I can live with this,’” Robinson said.
As the former Jefferson County Sheriff before he was elected County Judge, Robinson said while he was passionate about the office and about law enforcement, revenues are down, and something has got to give.