Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

November 21, 2009

Job cuts planned at SORC

The papers weren’t pink, but the message was as clear as any pink slip — jobs will be cut at the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley.

Last week, 163 SORC employees were given letters asking them to consider quitting their jobs in an effort to reduce staff at the state-run institution. Employees were offered a “voluntary out benefit,” SORC Director Jeff Livingston said.

State officials say they need to cut 93 positions at SORC, but identified 163 employees to make the offer to, in hopes that 93 will take them up, avoiding any future layoffs.

The staff reduction comes as all state agencies have been directed to cut their budgets because of declining oil and gas revenue to the state.

In the end, at SORC that means staffing will be reduced from 387 today to 294 employees by early 2010.

Employees targeted at SORC were offered a buyout package that includes 18 months of insurance for the employee only, not family members; a half week’s pay for each year worked at the center not to exceed $5,000; and pay for accumulated vacation leave.

Employees have 45 days to accept or decline the offer, according to Jim Nicholson. Nicholson is the director of the developmental disabilities services division of the Oklahoma Human Resources Management Division. Employees mail their response letters back to Nicholson’s department, which then returns information to Livingston.

It’s a first-come, first-served arrangement and the first 93 people to say “yes,” get the package, Livingston said.

The offer was made to employees only in certain areas at the Pauls Valley center. There are no plans to cut direct health care positions, he said.

“Most of the positions that are being cut are non-health care related positions,” Livingston said.

Meetings were held at SORC to explain the cutbacks, Livingston said.

Despite their anxiety about the cutbacks, his employees did him proud in the meetings, Livingston said.

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