Saturday, September 15, 2012

Crisis Averted!!

I work as an Administrative Assistant for the county I live in.  Every year, the county has to set a budget, and every year cuts are usually proposed.  Due to the economy, the cuts proposed were very deep this year.

And very personal, as I was one of the positions put up on the chopping block. 

On May 14th, me and 5 other employees (just in this building!) were called into a meeting. We weren’t told what the meeting was about beforehand, but there were some big cheeses at that meeting, so we were very nervous. 

We sat down, and Big G (I’ll call her that) tells us that all of the Managers and Supervisors ranked positions in order of importance, and our positions were lower on the list than others, thus putting us on the chopping block for budget cuts. Of course, we were upset, and it’s very hard to not take it personally – you just told me I’m not important or helpful to you!

Big G told us that if we were cut, we would be able to slide into another open position within the entire county, if any positions were open. If there were no positions opened, we would be put on a Wait List type deal for positions that we qualified for.  This put a serious dent in my day, my week, my year!!!

I was laid off in August of 2009 from a local construction company, and was unemployed until May 2011. I got a grant-funded job through the Florida Back to Work Program (FBTW), but that was slated to end September 30, 2011. Luckily, I got the job I have now before the FBTW program ended.  I didn’t LIKE being unemployed. I’m one of those people who LIKE to work and be productive members of society!  The idea of having to go BACK on unemployment and back to the task of finding a new job and scoring interviews and whatnot pissed me off.

And, hey, what about my annual Disney trip!?!  I already had my room booked and paid for! I don’t want to have to cancel that!!!

Once I got over the anger, I did what I always do – I began making plans.  Saving money (we still hadn’t gotten out of the hole from the LAST time I was unemployed!!), beefing up my resume, updating my references, etc.  I told my husband what may happen, but didn’t tell my daughter, as she is a worrier.  I felt kind of bad, but since I didn’t want her to worry, I didn’t feel THAT bad about it…

In that meeting, we asked when we would hear something definite (as in, when will I know for sure that I have to pack up my desk?).  We were told that in recent years, we would know something definite by the end of June.

The end of June came and went with no information.  The 4th of July came and went with no information.   The beginning of August came with very little information.  I don’t’ think it was until the middle of August that the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) met and finally began to REALLY discuss the budget, including my job. 

Behind the scenes, my boss, her boss and the Director of the department were fighting with the BoCC to keep me, saying that I was vital to the department, I was a great employee, etc.

The board decided to NOT raise the Millage Rate, keeping property taxes low for County residents. Yay, as I’m a resident, but Boo, because raising the Rate would have ensured that I kept my job!

I began searching job listings on the internet and local job boards, all but certain that I would be leaving at the end of September.

The Board met a few more times between the beginning of August and September 4th.  It was recommended that, if the board doesn’t give anyone a raise, they could keep most of the positions that were on the chopping block.  There was hope for me yet!  A lot of pissed off county employees, since we haven’t gotten raises now in FIVE YEARS, but it looked like I was going to be able to keep my job!

On September 15, the Director of the department stopped by my office to let me know that, even though it wasn’t ‘official’ yet, I was safe and I would not be laid off! Yippee!!!!  I was very professional, and thanked him very much for fighting to keep me, then joked, “Oh, and I’m on vacation in 2 weeks!”  I got to keep our annual vacation!! I was so happy, but man, let me tell you, I don’t ever want to go through that again!!!!!

**On a side note, I have to say how proud I am of how I handled myself during this time – I kept training and didn’t use food to dull the pain or stress!!!