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Chairman proposes hiring freeze

Chautauqua County Legislature Chairman Keith Ahlstrom is proposing two measures to guard against a budget shortfall in 2008 -- a hiring freeze for the rest of the year and a more restrictive travel policy.

Both measures go before the Administrative Services Committee next week.

The Legislature failed to approve a hiring freeze recently, but Ahlstrom said -- given the dire predictions by County Executive Gregory J. Edwards -- the issue needs to be revisited.

"We're facing layoffs, we're facing massive cuts to programs and services. If that is the case, which I am not fully buying at this time, we should not wait until 2008 to prepare for it. We should be doing everything we can right now," he said.

Ahlstrom is calling on all employees, lawmakers and administrators to be as "judicious as possible" in their travel. He said there may be some conferences that don't need to be attended.

Ahlstrom said he would hope both resolutions would be unanimously supported.

"I think that if legislators are out there now saying that we are looking at these massive layoffs and everything, they should want to be as proactive as possible," he said.

Ahlstrom's proposed hiring freeze would not eliminate all hiring. The resolution said it would promote "more careful hiring practices for the remainder of 2007."

Necessary hiring could take place with prior written notice to the Legislature clerk. The Administrative Services Committee meets on Monday.

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