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Published: Tuesday, 12/7/2004

Residents riled by possibility of city layoffs in Rossford

Facing a deficit in its 2005 budget that may force layoffs of public safety officers and public works employees, Rossford went to its residents last night seeking advice. It got an earful.

In a committee-of-the-whole meeting that lasted more than three hours, nearly 200 people packed into a room of the Rossford Recreation Center to criticize City Council's proposed budget cuts, suggest ways to increase revenue, and wonder why they hadn't been told about the nearly $650,000 deficit earlier.

The 12 proposed layoffs include three of the city's police sergeants and three of the 10 public works employees. School crossing guards would get the ax as well.

Residents' suggestions ran from reducing hours for city workers to turning off street lights during the day to making the marina fully pay for itself.

Mayor Bill Verbosky said possibilities for raising revenue include a garbage tax, concessions from the unions on wage increases, early retirement of some employees, and increasing more fees. The city has hiked water and sewer rates and put off some road repairs and replacing police vehicles.

Some suggested that council ask voters to approve a new income or property tax, but council members said that even if one were on the ballot today, it would not be in time to balance the 2005 budget.

Each household would have to pay about $270 to make up the deficit, Finance Director Laurie Sabin said.

Council members said they did not know if they would vote for the proposed layoffs.

"It's going to be one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make," first-term Councilman Larry Oberdorf said.

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