Politics & Government

DHEC announces five-day furloughs

The new year will bring furloughs for workers at the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The agency announced Thursday that staff will take five days of unpaid leave beginning next month.

“A five-day furlough of all DHEC employees will generate just over $3.9 million,” said DHEC Commissioner Earl Hunter in an e-mail sent to staff. “This will help greatly with the current budget cuts and, as importantly, will help us gain time as we continue our process of reviewing all of our programs to determine which responsibilities we can no longer continue to perform.”

Future cost reductions would be determined based on whether more state budget cuts are necessary, Hunter said. The agency would assess which of its health and environmental programs must be maintained.

Hunter pointed out that the agency, which costs about $800,000 a day to operate, already has fewer employees than it did several years ago.

“In 1999, we had 5,245 employees,” Hunter said. “By 2003, that number had dropped to 4,611. We now have 4,194 members of the DHEC family. We have lost over 1,000 employees, some 20 percent of our work force, in less than 10 years.”

-- From Staff Reports