Sandusky considers layoffs

SANDUSKY City Hall may soon get a little leaner. During his city manager's report at
May 24, 2010



City Hall may soon get a little leaner.

During his city manager's report at Monday's city commission meeting, Matt Kline hinted that city will face layoffs in the near future.

"We're conducting a complete investigation of every department," he told commissioners. "What isnecessary and what isn't? Are there (certain employees') responsibilities that can be shared amongst other employees?"

The city manager wouldn't specify in what departments those cuts may come, however.

"I'd prefer to talk about employees' futures in executive session," he said.

The city had two executive sessions after the public portion of the meeting to discuss personnel in the housing and engineering departments.

Officials wouldn't comment, however, on whether those meetings were to discuss layoffs. But city commissioner Dan Kaman, who has been pushing for cuts at 222 Meigs St., said he was relieved the city has taken steps to balance the budget -- even if it was later than he had hoped and it meant layoffs.

"I'm glad to see that if layoffs are necessary, they will be across the board and not only involving union, police and fire employees," he said.

Earlier this month, the commission passed a a budget with a $961,000 deficit. As of now, the budget would leave the city with a $2.73 million cash balance at the end of 2009.

According to city finance director Ed Widman, ifthe city's cash balance falls below $3 million, it could affect the city's bond rating and hurt its ability to borrow money.

But city manager Matt Kline said with careful and prudent oversight of the budget, the city could end the year with only a $700,000 deficit and a $3 million cash balance, and Widman agreed that was achievable.

On Monday, Kline said the city is considering some "operational savings" ideas to save money. He cited putting LED lights downtown, which use significantly less kilowatts per day than the city's current lights, as one idea.

Kline said the up-front cost of the lights would be $9,000, but they would save the city $15,000 per year in electricity bills. The lights have 11-year life spans, so the city could save $200,000 during that time. Kline said he was just waiting to get more exact numbers before making a final decision.

But after the meetings, officials admitted wages and benefits comprise more than three-quarters of the General Fund's budget, so the only way to make large dents in the deficit would be to cut staff. Kline also said they didn't have any other "operational savings" ideas they were currently working on.

With the deepening recession, Kaman said the city needs layoffs because the city's revenues could come in lower than projected and actually increase the city's 2009 deficit.

"That's my biggest concern," he said.

After the meeting, Kline said he thought the city would find areas to make cuts, but wouldn't go into specifics.

"There are inefficiencies in every company in the nation," he said. "That's all I'm going to say."