Grand County government keeps its workers’ numbers in check
Number of full-time county employees on par with 2004
By the numbers, the workforce employed by Grand County taxpayers is almost exactly where it was 15 years ago.
It might surprise those who feel like government just keeps growing — whether at the federal, state or local level — but the number of full-time county employees last year was almost identical to what it was 2004.
An annual analysis of full-time employees produced by the county’s financial department bears out this fact, as it details how Grand County had 251 full-time employees in 2018, only two more than the county had on the payrolls back in 2004.
“I was shocked and happy,” Commissioner Rich Cimino said of his reaction to the county’s static worker counts.
The analysis of the county’s workforce details small fluctuations in the overall number of full-time employees, along with some changes in how the employees have been classified over the years. Still, the overall number of workers has remained remarkably consistent for well over a decade now.
“Your county government has held the line,” Cimino said of what the numbers mean. “Your county government has not grown in people significantly over 15 years.”
Looking at the numbers, the recession seems to have had little impact on the county’s workforce with the number of full-time employees holding steady before, during and after the economic downturn.
Interestingly, the most employees the county has had over the last 15 years (273) was in 2015. Even more interesting is the high was only two years removed from one of the county’s lowest count over the last 15 years (243), which was in 2017.
How has all of this happened? Increased productivity and technology have certainly played roles in the stationary number of county workers, said Cimino, who also credited a strong reluctance among commissioners to grow government as another likely influence.
“We haven’t achieved this flatness through things like layoffs or cuts,” he added, explaining that county officials have kept the workforce numbers in check, not by passing out pink slips, but by taking advantage of job openings to realize savings at opportune times.
Some might assume that keeping the number of employees down has also kept the county’s personnel costs flat too, but Cimino and other county officials know that would be a mistake.
As Finance Director Curtis Lange explained via email, the horizontal worker counts don’t necessarily mean the county’s personnel costs have remained flat because the county has covered cost of living raises and the increasing costs of employee benefits. While the type of benefits offered by the county haven’t changed, the price of those benefits has risen consistently.
As for those who might think the number of county workers perhaps should have grown over the last 15 years, Cimino said he hasn’t seen the overall level of services provided by the county degraded during that time and he believes the lack of growth in the number of employees working for the county is worth celebrating.
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The Grand County commissioners have denied a request to exclude the Henderson mill from the Hot Sulphur Springs-Parshall Fire Protection District.