Water management district to cut staff
The agency that oversees water resources in West Central Florida announced that its slashed budget will include doing away with as many as 150 of its 768 employees. The Southwest Florida Water Management District governing board approved the restructuring plan at its meeting Tuesday. Of the positions to be eliminated, 40 are vacant or are contractors who are finishing up jobs. Staff will be offered voluntary severance plans for 45 days. If the goals aren't met, involuntary layoffs will be imposed in January or February. "We are blessed with smart and talented people. Unfortunately, we are caught in a situation driven by economic conditions," said district Executive Director Blake Guillory. "We need to be as thoughtful and helpful as we can during this process while also serving the taxpayers of our area."The streamlined workforce at the district is the result of the governor this year slashing the budgets of all the state's water management districts. "As an organization, we have to get leaner and more efficient," said Guillory, who was hired this year after longtime director Dave Moore resigned. "The more quickly we can get right-sized for our budget and workload, the faster we can move forward, secure in our jobs, to meet the water resource challenges of this district." The district's current budget is 44 percent smaller than last year's, and managers will have to tap cash reserves to help get though the year. If the cuts remain in effect, the district could face a $30 million shortfall by October 2013, according to a news release issued this week. "We either have to reduce our costs significantly or reduce our cooperative funding and ecosystem restoration efforts in the future," Guillory said in the release.