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Layoff procedure right, Hayden insists County says 290 finally lost jobs BALTIMORE COUNTY


County Executive Roger B. Hayden said yesterday that criticism of the way he conducted layoffs of county workers in February has merely "raised false hopes" among the employees he fired.

"We're very confident" that proper procedures were followed, he said. "We researched this thoroughly."

On Wednesday, the county's Personnel and Salary Advisory Board sharply criticized his handling of the layoffs and said the county did not give proper notice to those whose jobs were eliminated.

Mr. Hayden said the workers who lost their jobs weren't technically let go until their severance pay, ranging from three to nine weeks, ran out.

Personnel Board Chairman David D. Queen, speaking for the board, said the layoffs were "unduly secretive" and "arbitrary" and violated the county code's requirement for advance notice before termination.

Attorneys representing several former workers before the board said they hope to use the strong criticism when they pursue their appeals against the firings in court.

Meanwhile, a clearer picture of the firings and cuts emerged yesterday from county budget Director Fred Homan.

Although 392 workers occupied jobs eliminated in February's budget cuts, only 290 full-time employees actually lost jobs, Mr. Homan said. Another 34 part-time library workers were laid off.

Forty-eight of the laid-off workers have filed for retirement, and at least 70 more have found new jobs, according to county employment administrator John M. Wasilisin. He said he is sure that several dozen more have found new jobs but have not reported them.

That leaves a maximum of 172 full-time people who may still be out of work, plus some of the part-time library workers.

With the number of unemployed county workers declining, Mr. Wasilisin said the county's special employment assistance office the Galleria office tower on Seminary Avenue in Lutherville will be closed next week.

Most services now offered at the center will be continued at the county's four permanent employment offices in Catonsville, Eastpoint, Towson and Randallstown.

Three laid-off workers -- two public works engineers and a 16-year veteran librarian -- were using the center's phones yesterday.

They said the phone bank is the feature of the center they will miss most, because it's convenient to check the job vacancy postings at the center and start making calls immediately.

If a lead turns up, they said, they can use computers at the center to write a new cover letter for their resume and send it out immediately.

Mr. Homan said that, of the workers who were initially notified that their jobs were eliminated, 19 took other vacant county jobs, while another 20 "bumped" into less senior positions.

Those 20, however, set a chain reaction into motion that resulted in 20 lower-ranking people losing their jobs.

Originally, Mr. Hayden announced he was eliminating 566 jobs, including 392 filled positions. In addition, he closed the nine libraries, four senior centers, two permit and license branch offices, and two health centers.

He reorganized several county departments, particularly public works and the Department of the Environment, where whole sections were eliminated.

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