Glacier County will temporarily lay off half of its workforce for 30 days in order to keep the county’s books balanced. The layoffs begin today. The county, which has long-standing financial troubles, decided to lay off workers now because it was already reducing staff due to the coronavirus outbreak.
County Commission Chair Michael DesRosier says the county had planned to begin furloughing roughly half of its 106 workers April 1. But since the county was already reducing staff in the clerk and treasury offices due reduced hours of operation during the coronavirus outbreak, he says they bumped up that date.
"We thought it was the best time to do our layoffs rather than wait another week."
DesRosier says relaxed unemployment and health insurance requirements will allow county employees to maintain benefits.
Many of the layoffs will come from the county sheriff and roads departments. Those staffs will rotate through two-week furloughs, though DesRosier says the county may reduce the number of law enforcement officers included in its plan to maintain public safety.
The move comes after the county agreed to drop a lawsuit against the Indian Health Service claiming the federal agency owed the county $1.8 million in back pay for years of emergency medical transports. DesRosier says the negotiations have since broken down and the county plans to refile its lawsuit. IHS could not be reached for comment by deadline.