More than a dozen people who work for Laurel County government will be looking for new jobs within a few weeks. The layoffs are part of the county's penny-pinching efforts. However, people say the losses run much deeper than 14 people without paychecks.
“I was very disappointed and surprised because I think we have moved backward instead of forward,” says School Teacher Cindy Baker who is upset in hearing that layoffs at the recycling center could lead to the facility closing.
Since 1993 it's been a collection center for cans, cardboard, paper and plastic, but she says it's also been a huge educational tool and not just for kids. “Well that's where it begins. Their parents won't recycle. So their kids come home and say 'hey, can we take the aluminum cans, or cardboard boxes' and they train their parents,” says Baker.
The judge executive says the problem is simple. Judge Lawrence Kuhl says there isn't enough money coming in to pay for everything that's going out. Health insurance is $50,000 more. He says the sheriff and court clerk would normally have excess fees. That's $100,000 that's not coming in and he says there's no rainy day fund.
So the fiscal court agreed to layoffs. Since money is needed for emergency services, Laurel Countians could soon be paying close to $2 a month for the 911 surcharge. That's more than double the current amount.
The judge executive says the jail is overcrowded. Workers’ compensation is up. Something has to give. But many say the recycling center is too important.
“The landfill at Lily is already huge and it's like a mountain. Pretty soon it will be mountain number two. What do we do when we run out of that space?” asks Baker.
Local officials have already approved the budget, which details the cutbacks, and it's in Frankfort waiting on state approval. Judge Kuhl says he's working with the solid waste coordinator on a plan to keep the center open.