Latest News

County employees hear of tough times

MANATEE — Manatee County employees were informed Friday that no department is exempt from budget cuts this year due to a revenue shortfall.

County Administrator Ed Hunzeker sent all the employees a letter outlining the possible options he will consider during the budget writing process to make up an expected $25 million revenue shortfall.

“We will consider previously unexplored options such as an abbreviated workweek, broad-based salary reductions, employee contributions for health benefits and an ‘early out’ option for those who have put in 25 years or more service with the Florida Retirement System,” the one-page letter stated.

Hunzeker said in the letter that the county commission will review his proposals in June.

“I’m glad he’s being up front with the employees,” said Commissioner Carol Whitmore, “before the budget process begins.

“It’s a fact of life we all have to live with,” Whitmore said, “but it’s better they are kept informed.”

Whitmore said she understands it may be painful for employees, but the commission “feels the pain,” because they have to make the hard decisions of where the cuts will be made.

Hunzeker also reminded the employees in the letter that there will be no pay raises in the next budget, but the pay adjustments recommended in a pay and classification study will be implemented this year.

“Those who are currently making less than the entry level of their ‘new’ pay range, per the study, will be brought up to the minimum,” the letter stated. “The bulk of the plan will have to wait for healthier economic times.”

Implementation of the study raised questions, but Hunzeker said it was important to bring certain employees up to the market-level salaries before any decisions are made about pay cuts.

Hunzeker was out of town and was not available for comment Friday.