By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
ASHTABULA — City officials discussed what personnel changes will need to be made before voting to pass a nearly $22 million budget Thursday evening at city hall.
“It’s not fun. It’s definitely something I don’t want,” City Manager James Timonere said of the possibility of losing as many as nine members of the Public Works department due to financial problems.
Council will amend the budget to eliminate a $650,000 deficit in the Public Works department by layoffs or buyouts, Timonere and Council President J.P. Ducro said.
“I hope the buyouts work because I don’t want the younger guys (to lose their jobs),” Timonere said.
He said he hopes to have a clear idea of who is going to take the buyouts by the end of January. Timonere said the city is considering offering buyouts to city employees who are one or two years from retirement as well.
“I will commend the manager and the auditor for all the work they put into it,” Ducro said.
“This is the best of a lot of tough options,” Ducro said.
Council agreed to approve the budget after discussing the various options.
Some of the buyout financial issues are still being figured out because of state pension rules. “We are waiting to hear from(Public Employment Retirement System),” Timonere said.
He said no layoff notices have been sent out at this time. “Nothing has been done. We have been in touch with Mr. (Joe) Bento (president of Local 1197, which represents the public works employees),” he said.
Timonere said buyout possibilities have also been considered relating to the fire and police departments.
Council also discussed how potential layoffs in the financial departments could provide problems. Timonere said he planned to approach the unions to see if there was any latitude in working with the city relating to contract wording.
Council voted to reduce the salaries of all department heads and some non-union exempt and non-exempt employees by 2 percent.
In other business, council approved the lease-purchase of 11 police cars from Great Lakes Chrysler in Kingsville Township. Councilwoman Julie Lattimer said the money comes from the capital improvement line item which can’t be used for general fund expenditures.