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|Vidalia laids off 19 city workers|
For the second time in six months, the Town of Vidalia has laid off employees due to financial losses incurred during the 2011 flood and the 2012 drought.
Mayor Hyram Copeland said the town laid off 19 employees last week, giving each two weeks notice as of Friday.
"Every department was affected by it," Copeland said.
According to the mayor, six employees were laid off from the convention center, four from the fire department, four from technology department, three from streets and sanitation and two from the utility department.
He said the town's losses from 2011 flood and continuing losses in royalty revenue from the Vidalia Hydroelectric Plant were the primary sources of the town's financial woes which resulted in the lay-offs.
Losses from both sources over the past two years total around $6 to $7 million, he said.
"Friday was the hardest day of my life," Copeland said. "Over the past year we have had to let 35 people go and I tell you it's extremely hard."
Last August, the town laid off 14 employees and placed four on a part-time schedule, while four others retired.
Copeland said the town now employs 129, down from 164 at the beginning of last year.
Estimated losses from the 2011 flood total from $2 to $3 million beyond reimbursement income provided thus far by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to the mayor.
He said the losses were incurred when the city protected several riverfront businesses as well as the convention center with temporary levees, and then provided subsequent recovery work to repair damaged infrastructure.
Since last year, he said the town has lost from $4 million to $6 million in royalty income from the hydroelectric plant. Quarterly royalty payments were suspended when due to the low stages of the Mississippi River the operating capacity of the hydro plant was dramatically reduced, Copeland said.
However, Copeland said payments from the plant to the town remain suspended while the town continues to pay for its electricity.
"We're working to resolve this issue right now," he said.
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