REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Creative cutting, leadership needed

Certainly we understand why city managers would want to preserve a 1 percent raise for non-union city workers, and the debate that h
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

Certainly we understand why city managers would want to preserve a 1 percent raise for non-union city workers, and the debate that has transpired over the past few weeks concerning pay raises and revenue shortfalls is a good start.

But it is only a start.

Non-union and union city workers, and their supervisors, need to focus in more on increasing productivity and efficiency, because the reality is revenue shortfalls will continue for the foreseeable future. The reality is government staffs will be downsized, payrolls will be reduced and services will be cut back.

Ex officio Mayor Craig Stahl knows this better than anyone. "Sandusky, not unlike our nation, is facing an economic armageddon in our finances. I don't think we can do those raises without laying off people. Economic Armageddon means we are at a crisis point, and that's the reality city workers have to face."

Non-union city workers are not alone in this quest for efficiencies. Leaders of municipal unions in Sandusky, and across the region, need only to look at concessions made by the United Auto Workers -- perhaps the world's strongest union -- to see the writing that is very clearly on the wall.

And Stahl and other city leaders need to look to the leadership innovations under consideration in other communities including Ottawa and Huron counties, where furloughs and short weeks for municipal workers are on the table to share the pain across entire staffs rather than forcing early layoffs. Our reality is we can not afford all the government services we have right now. We will not be able to afford them next year or the year after. Today is the time to reduce our services, seek to eliminate or consolidate departments and face the facts. Businesses around the region and country are doing this now, to preserve their prospects for the future.

We challenge our city and county leaders, too, to engage private sector leaders to help them "downsize" our government by 10 or even 20 percent. This is painful, but the only way to get by in a future with less income tax income, lower property tax income and a fewer people living in our area.

This isn't union vs. non-union, this is math. We can't afford it, so we need to do without.