Ben Hill County employees getting the pink slip

Ben Hill Board of Commissioners meet. / Jessica Fairley

Like many areas across the country, Ben Hill County is facing a financial crunch. County commissioners have to take drastic measures to keep the county afloat.

A decrease in revenue and back taxes is causing commissioners to lay off county employees.

"Unfortunately because employees make up 63 percent of the budget then that's the easiest place to look," says commissioner Scott Dowling.

County employees are being laid off work for 15 days out of the next fiscal year. Officials chose layoffs over furlough days so that each employee will be able to draw unemployment benefits for the days they are out of work. Out of all county employees, those who work for the Ben Hill Sheriff's Office are the only ones exempt from these changes.

"I owe it to the people that work for me because they need a paycheck and I need them," says Ben Hill Sheriff Bobby McLemore.

McLemore has cut six open positions that were set to be filled. The sheriff says going by way of furlough days would have shut down the sheriff's office and that's something that can't be done.

"I don't want to lay anyone off if I don't have to. I run on a skeleton crew and now by cutting these six position it's going to make it even tighter," says McLemore.

The six cuts are expected to save the county over $200,000 over the next year. Although the county will save by laying off workers so that they can receive unemployment benefits, the money will have to be paid back to the government. Officials say the solutions they're taking are only a way to by time until they can figure out a permanent solution to their budget crisis.

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