SLO County budget shortfall swells to $26.3 million, two layoffs may occur

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is considering eliminating nearly 28 full-time positions and laying off two workers as it grapples with a $26.3 million budget shortfall that has arisen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Of the 27.75 full-time equivalent positions county officials are considering cutting, 25.75 are vacant and two are filled. County officials have notified the two employees who may be laid off and are providing them assistance, according to county administrators. 

“This is a very difficult decision. Just like any local employer, we rely on our employees to provide quality services and the last thing we want to do is cut positions,” County Administrative Officer Wade Horton said in a statement. “We care about employees and want to continue providing important public services to the people of SLO County when they need our help the most.”

A decrease in consumer spending amid the pandemic has resulted in a significant loss of revenue. Simultaneously, county expenditures are increasing because of the pandemic response and a higher demand for public services. 

Previously in June, the board of supervisors approved $6.5 million in departmental budget cuts. The budget cuts made eliminating certain positions unavoidable, according to the county.

The initial cuts included eliminating funding for equipment replacement, training and office supplies. County department heads then examined vacant positions in attempts to avoid layoffs. 

Also in June, the board of supervisor approved $6.9 million in employee concessions, as well as the use of $12.8 million of reserves. 

The board will address the budget deficit and potential layoffs when it meets on Aug. 11.

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