Council faces cuts and staff shortages

The Government ban on hiring public service staff, coupled with a rash of retirements and tight budgets is set to hit Laois County Council employees, and services provided by the council.

The Government ban on hiring public service staff, coupled with a rash of retirements and tight budgets is set to hit Laois County Council employees, and services provided by the council.

With a 30 per cent drop in staff numbers, workers are taking on additional jobs in order to maintain standards, County Manager Peter Carey told the Leinster Express.

“Staff numbers have been significantly reduced mainly due to funding constraints and the moratorium. Obviously this will impact on service levels and result in staff taking on additional duties.

“We are currently undergoing a re-structuring process in order to deal with the changes but Laois County Council is committed to maintaining a high standard of customer services in so far as possible,” he said.

The council are finalising their 2012 budget, which will be smaller than last year.

“The draft has not been completed as yet and, accordingly, the overall reduction has not been finalised,” Mr Carey said.

Overall employee numbers have dropped from 500 to 367, according to Director of Services Anna Marie Delaney.

The reduction in public service pensions has prompted a number of council staff to opt for early retirement, further putting pressure on resources. The county manager said it was too early to be sure of how many staff will leave the service in 2012.

“However, the situation is being monitored and I will be in discussions with the Dept of the Environment, Community and Local Government to address any issues that arise,” Mr Carey said.

Senior Engineer Orla Barrett manages roadworks crews, who have particularly borne the brunt of the staff moritorium, especially during the bad weather last year.

“It puts the roads section under pressure. We have six men in Graiguecullen, which is a massive area, covering The Swan to Ballylinan. I just hope it doesn’t snow,” she said, adding that workers in the water service were also “unsung heroes”.