MILLVILLE - The Millville Commission approved a resolution Tuesday that will likely lead to the layoffs of 15 city employees and a reduced workweek that could close the doors of City Hall for one day each week.
For the city employees who keep their jobs, the reduced work week will translate into a salary reduction of about 10 percent. A last minute addition to the agenda, the resolution was passed unanimously by the commission.
The 15 employees - all of the positions have not yet been identified - will come from all departments, except public safety, which is not reducing its number of police officers or firefighters, or cutting their hours.
Dave Vanaman, Director of Public Safety, explained the reasoning for avoiding cuts, saying that the 24-hour police operation is not fully staffed to begin with and would not provide the same level of service with cuts. Public safety accounts for more than 60 percent of the city's budget.
Since the budget planning process began in late 2009, the city commissioners have said layoffs would be the last consideration.
In the city's negotiations with the unions, Vice Mayor Joe Derella said only the administrative professionals came back with concessions. Derella said the final figures could change, although it depends on various factors like the amount of state aid the city receives and whether the Urban Enterprise Zone remains.
The commissioners reiterated that there was really no other choice than to cut employees and service.
When the city evaluatied its budget in December, it faced a $3.6 million budget deficit. By switching health care plans from private to the state-run plan, the city saved $1.6 million. The city will save more than $700,000 by shutting down services for a day each week. And the cutting of 15 positions should help the city get close to a balanced budget.
Commissioner Dale Finch said residents should expect a reduction in services as a result of the reduced workweek. Bonuses that residents often take for granted, such as Saturday leaf pickup, are gone.
Mayor Tim Shannon, once known as the commissioner of fun because of his position as director of parks and recreation, said there is nothing left. There are no concerts this summer, no block parties, no children's activities, and the Union Lake beach has been closed.
Vanaman, formerly known as the frugal commissioner among a group of spendthrifts, said he is putting his decision to the public. He said he wants to know if the residents would support a tax increase in exchange for no reduction of public safety.
Several of the commissioners, including Jim Quinn, said they would not vote for a tax increase on the city's next budget, saying it is time for the public sector to catch up to the private sector in terms of suffering.
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