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Kane Co. layoff talks branch out to other departments
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 11/13/200 12:02 AM

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Kane County's Information Technology Department is headed toward a layoff now that the county board finalized its 2010 budget. It would be the first county department to use a layoff as a mechanism to balance its budget, but it might not be the last.

Information Technology Director Roger Fahnestock told a county board committee Thursday he still must trim about $32,000 from his budget and is down to personnel as the only place left to make a cut. Fahnestock said that dollar figure basically equals laying at least one employee off in January or February. The number of employees he'll have to let go will only increase the longer the county board takes to make a decision about the initial layoff.

"The longer you delay, the harder it is because you're spending money out of a mixed budget," Fahnestock said. "If you spend two months of a person's salary, I can't take that back."

County board members asked Fahnestock if there was any way to avoid the layoff, including the implementation of furlough days.

Fahnestock said furloughs were considered, but would be a scheduling nightmare. Fahnestock oversees 36 people and he used a one-time $36,000 cut to demonstrate the impact of a furlough.

"If you have $36,000 of cuts spread evenly across 36 people, then everybody has to take a $1,000 bite at some point," Fahnestock said. "We have some reasonably well-paid people, but we still have quite a few who live check to check. If you take $1,000 out of somebody's check, you're basically taking two-thirds of someone's check for some of these people. That's not easy."

Even more difficult will be Sheriff Pat Perez' problem of finding about $750,000 to cover his department's final payroll of the 2009 budget. Currently there is no money in the budget to pay those employees and a layoff is already on the table for some deputies come 2010. Perez is scheduled to appear before the county board's Judicial and Public Safety Committee on Friday. Circuit Court Clerk Deb Seyller may be another department head with some tough budget decisions to meet her 2010 cuts. Seyller has yet to mention any forced layoffs, but she is also scheduled to appear before the committee on Friday.