Lyon County roads may see big changes ahead

YERINGTON -- An expected lack of funds could trigger big changes in Lyon County road department operations, including possible layoffs.

Looking to reverse spending trends that show them exceeding revenues by next fiscal year beginning in July, county Public Works Director Chuck Swanson on Thursday plans to present commissioners with three organizational options.

He said the possible layoffs or movement of employees would save approximately $50,000 per worker.

"For example, of the approximately $400,000 derived from laying off eight people ... $300,000 would go toward covering expected labor costs and the rest would be used for contract services," Swanson said. "We are trying to find an appropriate balance between in-house and contract services. What that ultimately happens to be is up to the commissioners. We are constrained by the amount of money available, but we can't go to either extreme."

Swanson's financial projections use current revenue sources only.

Last July, commissioners voted to place a question on the November general election ballot, asking voters to approve a half-cent sales tax increase dedicated to road improvements. If passed, it would provide an extension of several years before expenses would exceed revenues.

Recommended options include:

-- Reduce staffing from 29 employees to 21 and maintain the in-house work force with minimal outside contract operations.

-- Staff reduction to 12 employees for small in-house minor jobs, while contracting out most responsibilities.

-- Reduction to seven employees, including a road manager, administrative clerk, sign technician and four contract inspectors and go to primarily an outside contract operation.

Under the second and third options, all road operations would be moved to Silver Springs.

Staff reductions would be accomplished through attrition, early buyouts of employees with combined years-of-service and age totaling at least 70 years, placing of employees in other jobs within the county and layoffs.

In July, Swanson told commissioners the current level of services could be maintained through the 2002-03 budget year if there were no unexpected problems, but the road fund would be nearly depleted prior to fiscal year 2003-04.

"We are thinking about what we are going to do next year," he said. "I would hate to go into next year and all of a sudden have to make some very drastic cuts."

To balance the road budget, an original request of $3.5 million in capital improvement funding was reduced to $250,000. If funds are not available, two road graders will be returned this year at the conclusion of a three-year lease-buy agreement.


What: Lyon County commissioners meeting

Where: Administrative Complex, 27 S. Main St., Yerington

When: Beginning 9 a.m. Thursday

For information call 577-5037 (Dayton/Silver Springs) or 463-6531.


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