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Five convenience center workers laid off Monday

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By PETER SAWYER

Five Campbell County Environmental Services employees were laid off Monday. A reduction in the operation hours at convenience centers across the county, except the Towe String Road center, brought the layoffs.
Previously, convenience centers operated 10 hours a day, seven days a week. Convenience centers will now be closed Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. However, they will remain open for 10 hours on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Campbell County Finance Director Jeff Marlow said.
Campbell County Environmental Services Director Don Boshears and Campbell County Mayor William Baird made the decision to reduce convenience center hours and lay off employees. It was a cost-saving measure.
“That decision was mine and William’s,” Boshears said Tuesday morning. “I had so much money. This is the only choice I had. To cut some of the employees.”
Several county commissioners received phone calls regarding Boshears’ and Baird’s decision.
Commissioner Tom Hatmaker brought the issue up at the budget and finance committee meeting Monday night.
“Can you tell me why there were five environmental service employees terminated?” Hatmaker asked Marlow.
“You’ll have to discuss that with the environmental service director or the mayor,” Marlow said. Neither Baird nor Boshears attended the meeting.
Hatmaker persisted.
“My question is why did you terminate them,” Hatmaker asked.
“I think the reasons are more than one,” Marlow said. “I think it’s a simple business analysis. There’s no way for that department to continue to eat that kind of tax dollars…decisions had to be made.”
Commissioner Alvin Evans asked if the environmental services department lacked the money to pay the employees, and if Boshears had budgeted to run the department.
“Is he losing money?” Evans asked.
Marlow admitted the environmental services department wasn’t in immediate danger of running out of money, but would eventually have had problems if changes hadn’t been made.
“If we didn’t make a change, it would collapse the next year,” Marlow said.
“I have a budget that I go by,” Boshears said Tuesday morning. “I was not going to have enough funds to carry on the way I was. That was the only alternative I had.”
At the budget and finance committee meeting, commissioner Beverly Hall voiced a concern people had been hired since the layoffs.
“I haven’t hired anybody since I made this (decision),” Boshears said Tuesday morning.
At Monday’s workshop, Hall also expressed the concern Boshears wasn’t “going by seniority” with the layoffs.
When Boshears made decisions about which workers to lay off, he didn’t use seniority as his criterion, he said Tuesday morning.
“It was my decision to go ahead and keep the best qualified employees,” Boshears said. “I just wanted to keep the best employees I could for the job.”
Commissioners expressed concerns voters think the county commission made the decision to lay off the employees.
“Don is telling them this commission made those decisions,” Hatmaker said.
“We’re the easy scapegoat,” commissioner Rusty Orick said.
Boshears hasn’t told people the commission made the decision to lay off employees, he said.
During the county commission workshop on Monday, Evans asked if Boshears could come to next week’s meeting to answer questions.
“We’re going to give him more than five minutes because he’ll need it,” Evans said.
Instead, Hatmaker called an environmental services meeting before the commission meeting next week. Hatmaker is the environmental service committee chair.