County imposes hiring freeze

The Kitsap County commissioners on Monday approved a hiring freeze, following a cost-reduction path they have sustained over the past few budget cycles.

“The sagging sales tax revenue and increasing costs associated with petroleum products require Kitsap County to act now to ensure financial solvency in 2008 by further reducing expenditures,” read the resolution from the commissioners’ Aug. 25 agenda.

The resolution rescinds authority for elected officials and department heads to fill vacancies. Exceptions are available only if certain conditions exist and require individual approval from the personnel department.

Exceptions also must also adhere to one of the following:

• the vacant position is supported in its entirety through federal or state grants, or the position fulfills a grant requirement;

• the department head identifies the position as critical, and has another vacant position in the department with a comparable salary level that will remain vacant;

• the vacant position is funded through a new revenue source;

• the vacant position is for established seasonal programs previously approved by the county commissioners;

• a job offer has been extended prior to approval of the hiring freeze.

Additionally, filling a position will be allowed if its vacancy represents a more than 5 percent reduction in staff and the department will not be subject to planned 2009 staff reductions.

With this in place, one of the last hires will be for the new Administrative Services director, Shaun Gabriel, who is expected to begin his job Sept. 15.

Gabriel will replace Ben Holland, who retired.

Holland was credited with the development of the first balanced budget in Kitsap County in more than 10 years.

The primary budgeting tool was to equate money with personnel and determine each full-time employee (FTE) as a budget item.

Throughout the process, each department was required to cut a certain number of FTEs.

The current budget process, during which another $2 million will need to be cut, is expected to use the same yardstick, so limiting new hires now will prevent the necessity of cutting them later.

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