Budget cuts cause South Florida Water Management District to lay off dozens

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The layoffs of more than 100 workers at the South Florida Water Management District began Thursday evening as the agency continued its efforts to slash $128.3 million from its budget.

The layoffs will continue through Wednesday. Severe budget cuts, including the departure of 123 workers who accepted a buyout, have grabbed headlines in recent months and the 1,750 remaining employees have been awaiting news about which ones will lose their jobs.

In anticipation of the layoffs, the district's executive director, Melissa Meeker, urged the media Thursday to "respect the agency and its employees during this transition."

The cuts are being made to comply with a new state law that reduces the property taxes the district can collect by about 30 percent. Cuts include $57.7 million in operating expenses, $17.7 million in employee benefits and $27.5 million in staffing and salaries.

Nearly 27 percent of the workers who accepted a hastily arranged buyout in June earned salaries of more than $100,000. The annual salaries of those taking the buyout totaled more than $10 million, plus $1.4 million in benefits and about $367,000 in deferred compensation.


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