08/25/10 — Wayne County recognized for its cost control efforts

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Wayne County recognized for its cost control efforts

By Staff Reports
Published in News on August 25, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne County's efforts to help control costs by not filling vacant job openings has earned it a grade of "A" from the conservative Civitas Institute in Raleigh.

A Civitas study examined the changes in county government employee growth from 2000 to 2009 for the state's 100 counties and compared that to each county's change in private sector jobs and population.

The Wayne County budget adopted in June continues into a fourth year freeze on most county jobs. The only exceptions are shift positions or in cases where failing to fill the slots could adversely affect performance and/or cost the county state or federal funding.

Over the past several years more than 100 jobs have been eliminated without layoffs or furloughs. County officials have said that translates into a yearly savings of $3.5 million or $14.3 million over four years.

According to the Civitas study, 73 of North Carolina's 100 county governments grew their workforce at a faster pace than their respective private sector employment.

Also, 60 expanded their payrolls at a rate that exceeded the county's population growth over the same period.

The number of county government workers in North Carolina grew at a 13 percent pace from 2000 to 2009, according to the study. However, at the same time the size of the state's private sector workforce dropped by nearly 4 percent.

The study adds that the 13 percent county government employment growth rate is slightly less than the statewide population growth rate of 16 percent over the same period.

"At a time of heightened concern over the explosive growth of government, citizens should be concerned about their county government adding workers at a pace faster than population growth -- or even as the county sheds private sector jobs," said Brian Balfour, a Civitas Institute analyst.

"Wayne County should be commended for their efficiency. They were definitely in the minority in that they managed to shed county workers at a time when their county population increased."

The study notes that despite the rise in county government employment across the state that there were 19 county governments that trimmed their number of employees from 2000 to 2009.

Of that that total, 12 reduced the number of employees at a time when their county population actually increased.

"Especially in light of the current economic crisis, elected officials throughout North Carolina need to take a cue from those counties who are successfully doing more with less," Balfour said.