BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Erie County Executive Chris Collins has issued a dire warning regarding hundreds of potential layoffs.
The County Executive isn't saying exact numbers yet, but sources tell News 4 that up to 500 Erie County workers could be laid off this winter.
"There is no other way to do it than through cutting," said Collins.
At a Thursday morning news conference, Collins says the county's pension burden is jumping by $12 million next year. In total, the county has to fill a $25 million hole. How?
Collins explains, "This budget I will be submitting in a couple weeks, number one, will not have a property tax rate increase."
So will there be layoffs?
"Uh, we are finalizing what the budget is. I don't wanna get into specifics, but we have a substantial hole. We're filling it with real cuts," responded Collins.
Sources tell News 4 the proposed budget may include up to 500 layoffs, or more than 10 percent of the county workforce.
CSEA Local #815 President Joan Bender said, "It would mean a lot. All the young people would be the ones that are gone."
If a lowest seniority worker's salary plus benefits is about $50,000 a year, 500 of them would have to be laid off to trim the county's $25 million hole. White collar union president Joan Bender suggests the county offer an early retirement incentive, but Chris Collins is opposed to any early retirement incentive package. He says it wouldn't save the county any money because as of now, the county would still have to pay lifetime health insurance benefits for retirees.
"Our members do understand the economy and we do understand that sometimes you have to do some reorganizing, but I believe that you should look at every possible avenue before you just go cut, cut, cut," said Bender.
The County Executive expects to release his budget in about two weeks, and unless the Legislature can find other ways to cut, the pink slips could be going out by Christmas.
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