Layoffs Hit Madison County Inspection Department

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -Layoffs are hitting one local government system, with officials pointing to budgetary concerns as the cause for the job cuts.

Three officials with the Madison County Inspection Office will be out of a job starting in October. County officials confirmed that the layoff notices were delivered this week, and called the job cuts unavoidable.

Madison County Chairman Dale Strong told WHNT News 19 that the twelve-member department did around 500 inspections last year, far fewer than the 2,200 inspections that were carried out by thirteen staffers just five years ago. One inspection employee voluntarily left the department during the five-year period.

Strong said the county could not justify keeping the Inspection Department's payroll at 2008 levels even though their workload has dramatically decreased. The department had also racked up a string of yearly budget deficits, with the reserves that had covered shortfalls in prior years now wiped out.

Chairman Strong was not available to speak on camera, but did issue a written statement that addressed the layoffs.

"We are reviewing every department in county government to make it more efficient and reduce costs to the taxpayers," the statement read. "In most cases we have managed to reduce employment levels by not filling open positions, but in the Inspection Department we had to reduce our staff by three. Unfortunately, the number of inspections being conducted did not justify the number of positions and the decision was made to reduce staff levels to match the workload. These are always tough decisions, but we must spend every tax dollar wisely."

Officials said the layoffs were based on seniority, with the three employees who lost their job having the fewest years of service.