Department of Transportation to cut 70 positions

Posted: Friday, May 31, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- About 70 state transportation jobs will be lost and maintenance on some rural roads and airstrips will be curtailed, state officials said Friday.

The State Department of Transportation and Public Facilities also plans to close three maintenance stations and reduce snow hauling contracts, the department said.

The cuts are in response to a $6.5 million reduction in the department's request for fiscal 2003 approved by the Legislature.

Gov. Tony Knowles had asked the Legislature for a $6.9 million increase over the previous year, calling it necessary to maintain the same level of service.

Lawmakers approved only a $500,000 increase, giving the department $98 million from the state's general fund.

Commissioner Joe Perkins said the department will eliminate 40 positions and leave another 30 vacant jobs unfilled. Seven full-time positions will be reduced to part-time, the department said.

''This is an action we hate to take,'' Perkins said. ''We're losing some good people because of these cuts and that's going to make it harder on those that are left to do their jobs.''

Some employees will remain on the job during the summer to work on federally-funded projects, the department said. But federal funds are not available for maintaining state roads, the department said.

At least one deputy commissioner will be eliminated and other cuts will affect administrative clerks, managers and equipment operators, the department said.

Highway and aviation maintenance accounts for nearly 90 percent of the department's general fund budget.

The department also plans to issue fewer snow hauling contracts with private sector contractors, it said.

It also plans to discontinue maintenance on more than 70 rural roads and 18 small airports.

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