PALM BEACH COUNTY (CBS4) – Counties across South Florida are getting ready to slash jobs and benefits due to budget shortfalls, now the South Florida Water Management District is about to do the same.
The Palm Beach Post reports as many as 100 of the South Florida Water Management District’s 1,723 employees will be laid off before Aug. 17, Executive Director Melissa Meeker told the governing board Thursday. More than 120 workers have already left the agency after accepting a buyout and an additional 91 positions were already vacant.
Although some of those positions must be filled, when the latest round of staff cuts is completed, about 280 jobs will be gone, according to The Post.
Remaining employees will have reduced benefits, including medical insurance, tuition reimbursements and a healthcare subsidy for retirees, along with elimination of the vacation and sick leave buyback program and the matching contributions the district makes to an employee’s deferred-compensation plan.
The reason behind the staff and benefit cuts is to comply with a new state law that requires the district to slash the money it can raise through property taxes by 30 percent — or, about $128 million.
Thursday’s preliminary decision to cut the tax rate accordingly means that property owners would pay just under 44 cents for every $1,000 of taxable assessed value, down from this year’s rate of 62 cents. Based on that proposed rate, a home with an assessed value of $200,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption would save about $27.
Meeker also submitted other proposals including a reduction to the salaries of the 298 employees who are paid more than $90,000, for a savings she estimated at $1.5 million. Benefit reductions will save $17.7 million, and the staff cuts will save the district $22.3 million, she said.