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Published: Wednesday, 1/7/2004

Toledo expecting to cut 26 positions

The Ford administration yesterday began notifying a group of city workers that they would lose their jobs so the city can balance the 2004 general operating fund budget.

Jay Black, Jr., the city's chief operating officer, confirmed that at least 26 positions - not all of them filled - were slated for elimination.

“We're arriving at these positions through attrition, vacancy eliminations, transfers, and some layoffs,” Mr. Black said. “About one-half of these are coming from the exempt ranks.”

Among those given a 30-day verbal layoff notice were John Sherburne, a commissioner of economic development, and Andrew Ferrara, a manager of solid waste.

Mayor Jack Ford is expected to announce this morning details of an agreement with council about the budget.

The 26 eliminated jobs are fewer than half the 60 that Mayor Ford projected when he gave council his preliminary budget in November. That plan proposed $236 million in spending, but with a $10 million shortfall.

Most of those losing jobs are expected to move into existing vacancies in the Department of Public Utilities, which is funded by user fees, or one of the divisions funded by assessments, such as leaf and snow removal.

Mr. Black refused to release a list of affected jobs. “I don't know that all the people who have been impacted have been contacted,” he said.

Two who were notified were Mr. Sherburne and Mr. Ferrara.

Mr. Ferrara, a builder and real estate agent until his hiring by the city in 1997, was transferred from his job as economic development specialist to the Department of Public Service a year ago in a previous round of job eliminations.

Mr. Ferrara said he believes he is a “classified, exempt” employee, which entitles him to bump a less senior employee. “The irony is I might find myself back in economic development,” Mr. Ferrara said.

Mr. Sherburne is a commissioner of economic development and does not have bumping rights. He worked for the city from 1984 to 1987 as an accounts manager and then returned to city employment in 1999 as a city parks, recreation, and forestry administrator, after serving as finance director for the city of Monroe.

He said he has not been offered a replacement post.

Council President Louis Escobar said he believes the budget package negotiated between the mayor's office and council preserves essential city services. A vote is expected in late February. “I think we're going to be able to hold the line to provide the quality of service we have been able to provide in the past,” Mr. Escobar said. “With this set of layoffs, the fat is all gone. Any further cuts will impact services.”

The city has about 3,000 employees, of which 2,040 are in the general operating fund. Police, fire, and refuse collection account for most of the general fund jobs, but the mayor previously has ruled out layoffs in those departments.

Some of the personnel savings are expected to be accomplished through retirements. Mary Dixon retired at the end of December as commissioner of parks. She hasn't been replaced.

Gene Naujock, administrator for the plan commission, has notified his supervisors he'll retire in March after 35 years as a planner. The department intends to fill his job from within and leave that person's job vacant.



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