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Plan will cut eight city jobs

March 17, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

One part-time Hagerstown city employee will lose her job and seven full-time positions, including three in the police department, will be cut under a plan to help balance the fiscal year 2000 budget being backed by the mayor and City Council members.

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City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said four of the full-time positions to be cut from the budget are unstaffed. The three employees whose positions will be eliminated will be reassigned to positions that are unfilled or soon could be due to retirements.

Under this plan, no full-time employees would be laid off. One part-time worker will be laid off, despite recent statements to the contrary made by the mayor and some City Council members.

Earlier this month, the mayor and some council members said they had discussed personnel matters during many of their closed-door budget discussions since January. They said that none of their plans called for laying off any city employees for the next budget year, which begins July 1.

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"Maybe that wasn't 100 percent accurate but there were so many ideas going around," Councilman J. Wallace McClure said.

"I wasn't trying to hide anything, but not laying anybody off was the predominant mentality at that time," McClure said.

"No layoffs was our goal. We had hoped it wouldn't happen," Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said Tuesday.

Zimmerman said he had reviewed the proposed personnel changes with the mayor and council members during executive sessions "over a number of weeks."

Executive sessions are closed to the public.

During those meetings the mayor and council members "directed me to go ahead with these adjustments," Zimmerman said.

These changes are expected to cut about $265,000 from the next budget, Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman, as city administrator, is required by the City Charter to present the council with a balanced budget by March 31. This plan would eliminate almost 25 percent of the projected $1.1 million deficit in the estimated $21 million general fund budget.

Under the plan, Norma Parks, who works 20 hours a week as the market master at the City Farmers Market on West Church Street, will be laid off July 1.

"It's not performance-related, it's a budget issue," said city Public Information Manager Karen Giffin, who is Parks' supervisor. Other city employees will take over Parks' duties, she said.

Eliminating that job is expected to save about $10,000, Zimmerman said.

Also, positions for a police department lieutenant, a police vehicle maintenance worker and a public works laborer will be cut from the budget. The affected employees will remain city employees by filling other positions.

"We don't have specifics on who's going where. Adjustments will be made over the next few months," Zimmerman said.

The other positions that are unstaffed and will remain unfilled next year include a firefighter, computer programmer, police records clerk and code enforcement officer.

The city has 447 budgeted full-time positions and 12 budgeted part-time positions.

Under the plan, next year there will be 440 budgeted full-time positions and 11 budgeted part-time positions.

Although the changes are being implemented now, City Council members must approve the budget by the end of May to make them official.

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