Lewis County Could Lay Off Employees if State Budget Isn’t Passed

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Lewis County is preparing for the possibility of layoffs if the state Legislature does not pass a budget by the end of the month. 

The temporary layoffs would affect about eight employees, and maybe more, funded through the state budget, according to county officials.

“We have employees that will be affected by that if (the budget) does not pass,” Lewis County Human Resources Director Archie Smith said. 

Smith said a letter has been drafted and will be sent out to the Executive Steering Committee to provide the affected employees prior notice. If the budget does not pass by the end of the special session, and state funding does not continue past July 1, then several grants and contracts will be affected. 

A contract with the Department of Public Health and Social Services states that employees need a 30-day notice before being laid off.

Sending the letter would kick off the 30-day period, but the notification timeline would stretch into the middle of next month. 

Becky Butler, budget analyst for the county, said the temporary furloughs or layoffs will allow the affected employees to keep their vacation and sick time accruals on the books until they come back to work. 

The Executive Steering Committee has also been asked to identify any other employees that may be affected if the state budget talks extend into another special session.

The move is a precautionary one, officials said. Lewis County Commissioner Edna Fund said the board does not want to upset the employees unnecessarily, but said it was good to provide them with the information, just in case. 

Fund also said after discussions with Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, she is hopeful that a budget will be approved by July 1 and that the layoffs will not need to take place. Braun is a lead budget writer for the Republicans in the state Senate. 

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