Hennepin Directors Take Three Days Unpaid Leave to Help County

Following in the footsteps of Hennepin County commissioners who froze their salaries at 2009 levels, Hennepin department directors will have to take three days of unpaid leave in 2009, or a loss of about 1 percent of salary.

“Given the current economic crisis, the rising need for services, and the significant state and federal cuts being handed to the county, we need to use any alternative that we can to reduce our costs,” said Hennepin County Administrator Richard P. Johnson. “I very much appreciate the cooperation and commitment of our staff.” Johnson has asked other county managers to consider voluntary unpaid leave as well. "I think the county administrator's decision, while difficult, is an appropriate move in these times,” said Commissioner Mike Opat, County Board chair. “Clearly, we cannot deny that the economic crisis is having effects most of us have never seen in our careers. The commissioners have taken a cut. County directors and managers are now taking a cut. Before the year is out all employees will certainly see and feel the pain of this time."

Hennepin has about 8,200 employees or 7,600 full-time equivalent positions. There are 30 directors and 310 managers. “Not all situations are identical and not all are ideal, and I understand that,” Johnson said. “But any step that we take to help maintain services to the public is needed.” Hennepin approved a $1.7-billion budget for 2009 in December 2008, just weeks before the governor announced he was withholding state aid to cities and counties. Hennepin was expecting more than $10 million of that aid. Hennepin’s 2009 budget focuses on essential services while addressing significant state and federal funding cuts for mandated services. As state and federal funding cuts to counties occur, the cost of providing these mandated services falls on local property-tax payers. (
March 3, 2008)