Massac County Workers Facing Pay Cuts Due to Budget Crisis



Massac County Workers Facing Pay Cuts Due to Budget Crisis
By: Kate Scott

Ongoing budget problems in the state of Illinois are once again taking a toll on Heartland workers.

This time it's Massac county employees who will be feeling the pinch, by being forced to switch to a shorter workweek and take a hefty pay cut.   About  fifteen employees at the county courthouse will only be working 32 hours a week, instead of forty.  While it’s referred to as a “four-day” week, county commissioners say employees will actually be working shorter hours, Monday through Friday.  It will mean a 20-percent cut in pay for them, and county commissioners say the state of Illinois shares a big part of the blame for the situation.

“The county sales taxes are sent to the state, but we get one-percent of part of it, and one-quarter percent on the other part,” says Massac County Commission Chairman Gerald Childers.  “The state reimburses us for that, and they're behind. I think the last payment we got was in October.”  Adding up a tab of 55-thousand dollars per month, the state currently owes Massac County more than 200-thousand dollars.  “So that combined with other problems has really put us in a bind,” Childers says.  In the last two years, the county's health insurance has also doubled in cost, jumping from around 70-thousand dollars a year to 140-thousand dollars.  Massac County has also lost around 150-thousand dollars in grant money due to a spurt in population growth.

It may be hard to believe that Massac County can have any money trouble, when its home to one of the Heartland's only casino industries. But Childers points out that the casino revenue goes to the city of Metropolis, not to the county.  “There's a state law,” he explains.  “It’s the city’s money, and they can do what they want with it.  Actually, we have the richest city and the poorest county in the state of Illinois.”

While switching to the shorter workweek should save Massac County about 100-thousand dollars a year, the county is already 316-thousand dollars in debt.   Childers worried that even the current cutbacks won’t be enough to prevent layoffs in the months to come.  “I think there maybe will be some layoffs later,” he tells Heartland News.  “I hope not, but if this doesn’t work, we’ve got to do something.”

That new schedule and new pay scale for Massac County employees will start on Monday.  The switch will not include workers at the county highway or sheriff’s departments.