Temporary Sullivan County Highway Commissioner lays off 7 employ - WRBL

UPDATE: Temporary Sullivan County Highway Commissioner lays off 7 employees

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The former Sullivan County Highway Department employees we talked with today said getting laid off yesterday was a total shock to them.

The laid off workers we talked with say they think they were hand-picked by Manning because they don't support him politically.

But Manning says the deterring factor was the production of the employees, and whether or not it was something the highway department could do without.

"We're going to get together and go see an attorney and go from there and try to get this resolved," Matthew Stewart, former highway employee, said.

Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey said he has no power over the choices of the current highway commissioner.

"If he feels like he needs to reduce his work staff and start trying to find funding to buy more salt, or more vehicles or whatever, that's strictly his call, that's not mine, that's not the county commissions, they put him in that position and that's his decision to make," Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey said.

Manning said the layoffs will save the highway department about $260,000.

There's a commission meeting in February and the ex-employees we talked with say they'll be there ready with comments and questions.

Godsey said the commission will vote on March 17th for a permanent highway commissioner who will take the role until the election in August.

Manning told News Channel 11 he plans to run for the position in the August election.

Godsey said there's about five other people that will also be running for that position.



Roughly a month after the head of the Sullivan County Highway Department retired amid an investigation into his department, seven highway department employees are out of a job.

Interim Sullivan County Highway Commissioner Bobbie Manning confirms he laid off seven employees today as part of "a reduction in force due to budget constraints."

He says those seven jobs will save the county roughly $260,000 in salaries alone.

"Our budget has been the same every year the last couple years, but gas, asphalt, everything is going up," Manning said. "This is not going to affect our production, our service to the taxpayers. We can eliminate these positions and it not hurt our productivity of paving or mowing."

According to Manning, 104 people work for the highway department. He says the employees impacted by today's layoff had anywhere from a few months to 17 years of service with the highway department.

Manning took over as interim highway commissioner after the man who previously held the post retired in December. Terry Shaffer's retirement announcement came amid a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation into the highway department for "alleged irregularities and improprieties."

The investigation's findings are expected to go before the grand jury early this year.

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