Ahead of what he has said “will not be an easy year” for the Howard County budget, County Executive Allan Kittleman has imposed a hiring freeze for non-critical government positions.
Budget Director Holly Sun said it has been left up to each department head to decide which positions are considered “critical.”
Each department director has also been asked to create 2 percent savings plans for the current operating budget process, Sun said.
The goal of the freeze, which county spokesman Paul Milton said may be re-evaluated at the end of March, is “not to stop everything, but to at least have a close scrutiny” of openings, Sun said. No sworn positions, including police and fire staff openings, will be frozen, she said.
The decision follows a year with a decline in the county’s revenue growth. However, Kittleman said he is confident no services will be cut from the county’s budget.
Sun said she did not know how many positions would be affected by the freeze, and did not yet know how much money the freeze could save the county. The county government employs 2,789 full- and part-time workers, not including the school system and community college. The schools and college aren’t covered by Kittleman’s order.
The last hiring freeze for non-essential positions took place shortly after Kittleman took office in December 2014, at a time when the county was facing a $15.8 million deficit, according to Milton.
Kittleman will hold a public meeting on the upcoming budget on March 8; he will submit his budget proposal in April. The County Council is scheduled to pass a final operating budget in May.