Layoffs, program cuts impact Waccamaw Economic Opportunity Council

Eight temporary employees of the Waccamaw Economic Opportunity Council in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties have been laid off because of federal budget cuts as part of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations that have yet to be resolved.

Two of the employees are from Georgetown County, four from Horry County, and two from Williamsburg County. The employees were used on an as needed basis to process requests for two programs that are also being impacted, according to Executive Director James Pasley.

The Waccamaw EOC administers a program that offers low income home energy assistance to people having problems paying their utility bills and another that offers emergency rental payment assistance for people who can't pay their landlords.

In Georgetown County, the programs help about 100 people per month with about $80,000 in funding. Those numbers are about double for Horry County, Pasley said.

Appropriations for this year have not been finalized because of negotiations in Congress. Pasley has been told that there will be a cut, but he's not sure of the impact. That means they have to operate as though their funding is flat for this year, even though the cost of operating the council goes up due to things like higher fuel costs, etc., said Pasley.

It could be the end of February before they know what federal funds they'll be getting.

In many cases the EOC is only resource available for people who can pay their light bills or their rent. Pasley said there's a domino affect for landlords and power companies who then don't get paid.