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The declining housing market in Placer County has resulted in a decreased workload for inspectors in the county Building Department.

The number of new homes for which building permits were issued has fallen more than 50 percent, from 974 in 2004-05 to 359 in 2007-08.

As a result, there is a need for staff reductions. Department staff was notified today that eight staff people will be laid off, and others will be asked to consider filling a different job with a lower salary.

‘We understand that this is very difficult for our employees and their families,’ said Thomas M. Miller, County Executive Officer. ‘Coming to this decision was also very difficult, and we regret that it was necessary.’

The number of single family residential building permits issues in unincorporated Placer County has decreased dramatically over the past three years. Requests for building inspections are down. Because of the current state and local economic slowdown and its financial impacts, building permit applicants are also reluctant to obtain permits.

As a result, the Building Department has reviewed its organizational structure to match the number of staff providing service with the workload demand.

‘We’ve taken a number of steps over the last 18 months to protect services and avoid the need for staff reductions,’ noted CEO Miller.

During the last two years of economic uncertainty, the County has limited its expenses and taken steps to increase revenue. More than 200 positions are being kept vacant. As staff has retired or left the building department, positions have been left open.

Unfortunately, because of the economic slowdown, along with the state and federal budget shortfalls, further reducing expenses has become necessary.

Placer County approved a balanced, interim budget in June, which was based on earlier information from the state. During August workshops, the Board of Supervisors will again review its budget. It will consider how best to balance the county workload to ensure that critical basic services are available, including assistance to families affected by the economic downturn.

‘Today’s actions are a reflection of the current state of the economy in California as well as Placer County,’ said John Marin, Director, Community Development Resource Agency, which includes the Building Department. ‘We are continuing to track permit applications and the number has continued to decline dramatically. The decision to reduce staff has been extremely difficult for all of us.’

The process to achieve a reduction in the workforce will be done in compliance with labor agreements, according to Nancy Nittler, Personnel Director. Employees who are laid off will be placed on a ‘reemployment’ list. Some employees with seniority may be eligible to ‘bump’ others with less seniority. In addition, the Board of Supervisors has authorized an extra 10 days of pay in the form of leave, extending employment for the laid off workers through Monday, August 11, 2008, and will continue health, dental and vision care benefits through Sept. 30, 2008 at no cost to employees.

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