Flooding on the Crow Reservation claimed more victims, as costs from the natural disaster have forced the Crow Tribe to lay off 150 workers.
“We had to pay people to go out and help with trying to get people from their homes in isolated areas and getting food back and forth,” Crow Personnel Director Kayle Howe said Tuesday.
The unexpected costs weren’t the only reason for the challenging fiscal picture, Howe said. A decrease in income from mineral leases and other revenue shortfalls had caused the executive branch to cut full-time employees to 32 hours a week, he said.
“And then this happened,” Howe said. “The only way we can survive is to let people go. Nobody wanted to do it, but it’s something we have to do in order to keep the government going.”
The layoffs happened on Friday, Howe said, and workers whose jobs have been cut are being notified as quickly as possible.
He said most of those laid off were among the most recently hired, and acknowledged at least some of the people won’t be eligible for unemployment.
“Like everybody else, we’re faced with the dilemma of releasing people from their jobs,” he said. “The administration and the officers are very sorry for having to take this action.”
Howe said the tribe is trying to recoup money it paid to workers who helped with the flood-rescue efforts, but said that could take a while.
Back in August 2009, the tribe had to lay off 200 people due to revenue shortfalls and the unexpected costs of two elections that came in the aftermath of the death of then-Chairman Carl Venne.
Workers who were most recently laid off are paid out of the general fund, Howe said. They include positions such as clerical and grounds workers.
The tribe employed about 815 people before the layoffs. Howe said those laid off have expressed their frustration with the situation.
“Hopefully we’ll get it straightened out and get the money back and get them back on board,” he said.