City will lay off 10 employees
September 3, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 1:45 p.m. Sept. 3, 2009
City officials gave layoff notices to 10 employees today as the city takes dramatic steps to trim expenses by about $7 million.
Employees in the municipal Building, Human Resources, Parks & Recreation, Planning and Public Works Engineering departments received notice their positions would be eliminated soon. Some of the departments have been hit by a slowdown in building construction.
The layoffs followed a hiring freeze and a voluntary severance program enacted by the city. Municipal officials will save about $595,000 next year after seven employees opted for a severance package. All told, the hiring freeze, severance program and layoffs will save the city $2.025 million.
Officials have also deferred the purchase of supplies and equipment and suspended nonessential staff training to save money.
City spokeswoman Autumn Monahan said the effects of cost-saving measures have been wide-ranging.
“Every department at City Hall has been affected by the staff reductions, whether it’s been through frozen positions, the voluntary separation or layoffs,” she said.
Monahan said cuts were made in order for the city to maintain essential services, such as police and utilities, at adequate levels.
Key sources of dollars for the city — building permits and sales tax revenue — have dropped amid the recession. Officials forecast a $3.6 million shortfall for 2009; a similar decline in city revenue is projected for next year.
The layoffs are the first in recent memory related to budget problems. Overall, the size of the city staff will shrink by about 10 percent, or 27 positions.
“Unfortunately, more cuts are needed to keep our budget balanced,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said in a news release. “During these difficult budget decisions, it’s always been our main goal to minimize the impacts on our citizens and employees. However, as a service-based organization, about 75 percent of our operating budget is associated with staffing.”
Frisinger is due to present her 2010 budget to the City Council on Oct. 5. The presentation will be followed by weeks of budget hearings, during which officials will decide what to cut and what to preserve. Council members will adopt the budget Dec. 21.
The council adopted a $109.5 million municipal budget last December.
Monahan said no further plans exist to eliminate municipal positions — for now.
“Based on what we know today, there are no other plans to eliminate positions, but this, however, could change,” she said.