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City budget plan calls for 11 fewer workers

Officials believe changes can be made without layoffs

Oct. 4, 2011

Eleven jobs will be eliminated if the Common Council approves the proposed 2012 city budget.

Of those positions, 10 are already vacated or are expected to be vacated due to retirement by the end of the year. A proposal to cut a parking specialist position would result in a layoff or a job shift for one employee.

Split into four categories - city hall, public works, police and fire - employee groups were charged with finding cost reductions or revenue increases, City Administrator James Archambo said. In total, departments came up with $1 million in savings, most of which would be achieved by eliminating positions.

"A lot of the gap needs to come from position reductions because we're a service organization and we can't up the levy," he said.

Using more technology

At City Hall, the purchasing manager will be retiring and the chief building official position was vacated last year due to a death.

The former chief building official, Dave Wheaton, had a reputation as a jack of all trades and his job duties are being redistributed. But that may require additional funds to create promote existing employees to office manager or lead inspector positions and to outsource projects like roof replacement on a portion of City Hall.

The Public Works Department would lose three laborer positions; the addition of automated garbage collection in the city next year would reduce the need for those posts. In addition, new equipment would try to compensate for the elimination of one engineering technician.

Safety issues considered

The Fire Department would have one fewer deputy chief and two fewer lieutenants. Fire Chief Rob Ugaste has restructured his department's management and has said captains and lieutenants will share a larger portion of the load, leading to more empowerment and accountability.

The decision to reduce fire staff has always resulted in some controversy. A total of 12 positions have been cut in the past three years. However, the department's ability to handle several house fires this summer - when at least two of the positions were open - provides proof that public safety won't be jeopardized, Mayor Jill Didier said.

Over at the Police Department, one patrol officer and the parking specialist position are to be cut.

The city is hoping to find another position for the parking specialist, said Beth Aldana, human resources director.

The duties of the two eliminated positions would be covered by community service officers. The number of CSOs is anticipated to double from seven to 14 next year. These part-time, paid employees are interns going to school to study law enforcement. Their deployment will target parking enforcement, booking, non-emergency calls and speed trailer management, Police Capt. Dale Weiss said.

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