Luzerne County's prison system has the most employees of all county departments and also sustained the largest number of staff cuts, according to a new report issued by county Manager Robert Lawton.
The county correctional system had 338 employees in January 2011 and 316 this August, a loss of 22, the report said.
Probation services had the second highest employee reduction during the period – 16 – and a current count of 111 workers.
The probation department has lessened the impact of staff reductions by leaning more heavily on drug court, mental health court and the day reporting center, said county Acting Court Administrator Michael Shucosky.
These programs reduce the amount of time probation officers must be in the field monitoring offenders, he said.
Each probation officer also must supervise more offenders, Shucosky said, noting the average caseload is currently about 90 cases per officer.
The county assessor's office ranked third in reductions, losing 12 employees for a current count of 19, the report said.
The district attorney's office and security and 911 departments each lost seven staffers since January 2011, while building and grounds is down six employees, the report shows.
Lawton included the staffing comparison and a listing of all positions and salaries by department in his mid-year financial analysis publicly presented to county council last week.
The overall employee count went from 1,622 in January 2011 to 1,524 in August, a reduction of 98, his report shows.
Lawton didn't include the county's reduction of 45 transportation workers because those employees now work for the transportation authority as part of a merger.
Some of the report's staffing swings require further explanation. For example, the solicitor's office went from zero to seven employees during the period, but several lawyers employed by the county were stationed in other departments in January 2011.
The county administration department staff count increased from 20 to 27, but the latest figure includes the addition of 11 part-time, elected county council members under home rule.
Most of the 98 reductions stem from budget-related layoffs earlier this year. Some positions also remained vacant after employees quit or retired. Several cuts resulted from the elimination of elected row officer posts under the new home rule government, including two jury commissioners, a sheriff, coroner, treasurer and recorder of deeds.
Lawton told council further reductions in personnel costs will be necessary to erase the remaining $875,000 year-end deficit and sustain next year's budget, though he wants to work with unions and managers to discuss options before resorting to forced layoffs or other cuts.
Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton's financial analysis is posted under the county manager's section of the county website at www.luzernecounty.org.