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Fayette eliminates 21 vacancies to recoup retirement savings promise

Fayette County’s new county administrator last week eliminated 21 vacant positions across various county departments to create the nearly $2 million savings projected by the use last year of an early retirement program for county employees.

Steve Rapson said he was surprised to learn that the county had hired 22 new employees to take the place of the departing 32 employees, which stood to wipe out a significant chunk of the projected savings from the early retirement program.

Since county officials had estimated last year that the program would save about $2 million, however, drastic action was necessary to make good on that promise, Rapson told The Citizen Monday.

Rapson said he eliminated vacant positions on a department by department basis to achieve each department’s projected savings with the early retirement program. As an example, the information systems department was projected to save $126,000 but after the rehiring process the savings slipped to $22,000.

To recoup the remaining $104,000 in projected savings from the early retirement program, Rapson abolished two vacant positions in that department: a network administrator and a systems analyst.

Such actions were taken in each department to achieve the necessary cost savings for the upcoming fiscal year’s budget, Rapson said. So far Rapson has brought the savings to $1.80 million, slightly short of the $1.9 million target of the early retirement plan.

“Of the positions I’m abolishing, none of these current employees are getting a pink slip,” said Rapson.

Rapson credited the new board of commissioners for directing him to make sure the early retirement program netted the necessary savings.

“Let’s just say this administration is handling things differently than the previous administration,” Rapson said. “I’m a big believer in we do what we say we’re going to do.”

Rapson said he doesn’t anticipate any reduction in service levels due to the vacant positions because many of them had been vacant since June and some had been vacant for even longer.

“We’ve been thinning in some departments,” Rapson said.

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