Caroline County Lays Off Two Employees

The Caroline County commissioners officially terminated two county employees in what may be the first in a series of layoffs aimed at helping to reduce the current fiscal year’s budget. The commissioners approved the laying off of County Engineer David Porter and Housing Coordinator Diane Wojcik. The move was part of the commissioners’ efforts to cut around $2-million from the fiscal year 2010 budget to make up for last month’s loss of state funding for the county. During the September 15 budget workshop, John Cole, president of the county commissioners, said additional county employees may be laid off to help reduce the budget.

The state’s Board of Public Works, made up of Governor Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Knopp, cut 90-percent of Caroline’s highway user revenue allocation in an effort to shore up Maryland’s budget crisis. The county’s revised budget, first publicly presented by County Administrator Richard Barton at the September 8 county meeting, calls for around $200,000 in reduction in workforce savings. By laying off Porter and Wojcik, the county initially saves around $100,000.

Barton said Porter and Wojcik will retain their positions for 30 days, receive two months of free health insurance coverage and one month of free life insurance coverage. Those benefits, he said, will be extended to any additional employees the commissioners opt to lay off during the budget revision process. Porter and Wojcik, Barton said, were given advance notice of the possibility their positions would be cut. He said the layoffs were not a commentary on the employees’ work, but rather a means of saving county money by reducing its services.

Commissioner Jeff Ghrist said he thinks the county should be looking for close to $250,000 in workforce reduction savings. Ghrist said the commissioners are tasked with being stewards of taxpayer money, and he does not think the taxpayers want to continue paying for services not currently in high demand. In order to offset costs of unemployment insurance and benefit pay-outs as well as meet the new $250,000 goal, he said the total number of employees to be laid off could be as high as ten.