City Hall Staffers Earn a (Temporary?) BreatherBy Ari L. Noonan @ 10:00 AM May 01, 2012
Can workers exhale yet?
When City Manager John Nachbar releases his budget for the new fiscal year for Monday’s City Council meeting, “additional positions will be recommended for elimination” besides the 14 jobs that were cut last Wednesday.
Numbers still are being finalized, but the total “probably will be north of 20,” he said, meaning seven or more still are to be identified.
These figures don’t include the 11 graybeard workers, so far, who have accepted Mr. Nachbar’s prolonged golden handshake that has been on the table since last winter. Employees age 50 and higher have until the middle of this new month to decide whether to embrace early retirement.
The City Manager’s objective at the outset of the shrink-wrap campaign was to reduce City Hall’s work force by 25. “We are getting close,” Mr. Nachbar said.
The process is not necessarily linear.
“By a combination of factors – trying to be very careful about filling vacancies as they come open, by offering the golden handshakes, by providing the layoff notices and then reorganizing around that – that is how we are able to come up with the 20-plus positions recommended for elimination.”
Despite the unsettled issues, the body count at City Hall may be complete.
“There won’t be any (more) individuals notified,” Mr. Nachbar said. “These positions either will be vacant or made vacant by the golden handshake. I don’t have any further plans for immediate layoffs.”
However, a gaping deficit barely has been narrowed.
Mr. Nachbar said he did not want to publicly recount his options. “I don’t want to get into this too deeply because that is part of what the budget message is,” he said. “That is a discussion I need to have with the City Council and ultimately with the community.
“The decisions are becoming harder as we move forward.”
Next in line after bodies comes city services.
“If we reduce our expenditures much more significantly,” the City Manager said, “it’s going to be hard to avoid affecting services going forward. We are approaching that point.
“Especially if you hold police and fire off to the side, if you hold them harmless from the process.”
Does that mean the safety departments will go untouched?
Mr. Nachbar paused.
“I am not going to be recommending any changes with regard to police and fire in the immediate future,” he said.
The comparative state of the city work force at a glance:
At the height of the financially rosy days, the ’07-’08 budget showed 476 General Fund positions and 698 employees in all.
Five years later, the numbers are grimmer.
Mr. Nachbar’s new budget will allow for 406 General Fund positions and 627 workers citywide, down 71.