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Sun, June 16

Supervisors close to thawing hiring freeze

PRESCOTT - The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors appears to be on the verge of lifting its self-imposed hiring freeze.

"I think it is a bit premature, but maybe in a month or two," Chairman Tom Thurman said Monday at the board meeting in Cottonwood. District 1 Supervisor Carol Springer and District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis voted with Thurman to wait on lifting the freeze.

County Administrator Julie Ayers during a study session asked the supervisors to lift the hiring freeze, or "hiring chill" as some officials have called it.

The board imposed the hiring freeze more than a year ago after it froze pay and merit raises for county employees.

Ayers pointed out that the Management Information Systems department had three agenda items requesting a "hiring exemption" to hire three employees. She told the board that MIS already budgeted for the salaries as part of its 2009-10 budget.

Ayers noted that in the past month, department heads have asked for hiring exemptions to hire employees that the departments already budgeted for, and the recent hirings had no effect on the budget.

Because of the county's depressed economy, supervisors previously required department directors to appear at board meetings and justify hiring a new employee.

For the fiscal year 2009-10, the board mandated each department to reduce its budget request by 7.5 percent. Most departments met or exceeded the board's mandate, mostly by leaving vacant positions vacant and not hiring new employees.

Ayers on Monday told the board that it could be time to lift the freeze.

Prior to the hiring freeze, department directors could hire employees without meeting with the board.

A department that wanted to hire a new employee would send a hiring requisition to Human Resources Department. HR staff would verify that the position was open, and that the board approved filling it, HR Director Alan Vigneron explained.

"The departments could ask to recruit from within current county employees, or advertise the position outside," he said.

When the board lifts the hiring freeze, department directors will resume hiring based on their budgets and board-approved openings, Vigneron said.

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