Lee Co. commission considers hiring freeze

By Chris Vessell bio | email

OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - The recession is taking its toll on Lee County, and local lawmakers are looking for new ways to make ends meet. Preliminary budget figures project that the county's budget in 2010 and even 2011 is expected to take a hit.

"This recession didn't officially begin until December of 2007, so the money we collected this year is based upon I guess the hay day when things were just going great, and we couldn't build fast enough," Roger Rendleman, Lee County Administrator said.

Early projections along with possible spikes in expenses are prompting the county administrator to propose a hiring freeze at Tuesday's county commission meeting.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says he plans to help the county cut down on wasteful spending, but doesn't want to compromise public safety. "We will be watching very carefully in regard to positions, and certainly our goal is to never ever place the situation, or be in a situation to a point where we are not able to provide public safety in Lee County," Jones said.

The county is currently building an additional office in Auburn for citizens to pay court fines, taxes, and purchase car tags. The office building is 65% complete, but Rendleman says a hiring freeze could keep the building from staffed once it's built. "It is very possible that the opening of the office may have to be delayed until we can get a true picture of what's going to happen to our finances," Rendleman said.

Positions that are currently open would not affected. However, if the commission passes a hiring freeze Tuesday, any county positions that open up starting Wednesday would not be filled. "The county commission has always had a history of being conservative when it comes to finances," Rendleman said. "We just need to be proactive, especially considering the way this is starting to take place," he added.