A sharp decline in building fees could result in Clark County cutting more than 50 jobs in May to offset a $4.2 million deficit in its development services department.
County officials acknowledged the shortfall would require cost-cutting but said they didn’t know how many pink slips might be handed out.
To avoid layoffs, the county would transfer some workers to other departments and possibly offer some employees severance pay to quit, said Don Burnette, the county’s chief administrative officer.
“It’s premature to talk about layoffs,” Burnette said.
Burnette noted that a county worker with full benefits costs, on average, $70,000 to $80,000 a year.
Using that calculation, up to 60 jobs may have to be slashed to make up for the $4.2 million shortfall.
A slowdown in homebuilding has diminished the fees that cover payroll for the 96 employees in the department’s civilian engineering division, Burnette said. The division’s costs hover at $6.1 million while revenue has plunged to $1.9 million.
That division’s staffing is close to the same level it was at the peak of the homebuilding boom in 2005, when 12,000 permits were issued for residential work, Burnette said. This year, the county is on pace to issue fewer than 2,000 permits.
“So we’re definitely down,” he said.
An ebb in construction means the department’s employees have less work to occupy them, Burnette added.
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said some of the jobs would have to go to make up for declining revenue.
But she hopes the people can either be transferred or offered a chance to quit with severance pay, she said. “All these pieces would have to be in play before we look at actual layoffs.”
The commission today will discuss whether to offer severance packages to county employees with at least five years service. Workers who qualify would get one week’s pay for every two years of service, plus a year of health care covered by COBRA.
If the commission approves the plan, many civil-engineering employees would qualify, Burnette said.
The department’s commercial building department has fared much better, with revenue holding steady due to earlier projects carrying over, Burnette said.
However, commercial construction has begun to show signs of slowing, he said.
Nancy Denman, a civil-engineering employee, said she initially balked at the idea of taking 91/2 weeks severance pay for her 19 years with the county. She noted that Henderson gave its resigning workers two weeks pay for every year of service.
But with word of possible layoffs, she said she will consider the county’s offer so she can leave with some financial cushion in the bad economy.
“You put in all these years and you’re tossed,” Denman said. “Where are you going to go?”
Contact reporter Scott Wyland at email@example.com or 702-455-4519.