Covering Houston County: County Institutes Position Freeze

Dothan, AL (WSFA) -- Rising fuel costs and the slowing economy is causing the Houston County Commission to adopt a new policy on the hiring of employees.

Commissioners approved a position freeze during their regular agenda meeting.

Meaning the county is not creating any new jobs for one year.

Houston County Commission chairman Mark Culver calls the position freeze a preventative step.

"We just wanted to be sure we didn't put ourselves in a vulnerable situation," said Culver.

Culver says the commission will not approve funding for any new position through April 1st of next year.

However, department heads will be able to fill vacant positions.

"Those positions have been funded and budgeted so they can be filled in the next few months or so," says Culver.

Culver says  the county could be as much as $250,000 over budget because of the money it's spending for gas and diesel fuel.

The high pump prices have put the county in a tough spot.

Does it create jobs to fill needs throughout the county or dip into its $8,000,000 reserve account.

"It puts us in a difficult position either way.  But, we don't want to end the year so far over budget that we have to eat into that reserve and thus create and issue for next years budget," says Culver.

The commission hopes the budget picture will be brighter in a year.

Commission members hope expanding developments in the southern part of the county will allow them to lift the freeze and hire more county employees.

The position freeze last through this year and the first six months of the next fiscal year.

Reporter: Daniel Curtis