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Published: 3/6/2007

Toledo lays off 23 workers to cut costs

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Twenty-three Toledo employees have received 30-day layoff notices, the beginning of an effort to downsize city government and stave off an $11.9 million deficit.

The list includes secretaries, administrators, recreation workers, five managers, and one commissioner but no employees of the police or fire departments, the city s two largest divisions.

Five people are political appointees who landed city jobs after working in Mayor Carty Finkbeiner s mayoral campaign in 2005.

Theresa Gabriel, director of the Department of Human Resources, said the employees were hand-delivered layoff notices on Friday, and were asked to initial a receipt. She said everyone signed, except one who was too upset.

Those laid off may have the right to bump less senior city employees, or may qualify for vacancies that exist elsewhere in city government, officials have said.

The layoff list includes two recreation division employees who are losing their jobs even as a new position is being created to revive the city s youth baseball program.

Gary Kreft, an acting recreation manager, supervised the baseball program for several years, although his official status is a recreation technician under American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 7.

Shawn Sobel, 47, was hired, to start on Friday as a mayor s assistant 3, at a salary of $42,307, to run the youth baseball program. Mr. Sobel is married to a sister of Chief-of-Staff Robert Reinbolt, and was alerted to the job by Mr. Reinbolt.

A spokesman for the mayor s office said Mr. Reinbolt stayed out of the interview and hiring process. The job is outside the civil service process and was not advertised.

Don Czerniak, president of Local 7, said the union will grieve Mr. Kreft s lay-off.

They re getting rid of our Local 7 member and then hire Bob Reinbolt s brother-in-law, Mr. Czerniak said. He said nobody in the recreation division was offered the job in-house.

Dennis Garvin, commissioner of forestry, said Mr. Sobel is expected to work nights and weekends, as necessary, to attend meetings of Block Watches, parent-teacher organizations, park boards, and other gatherings to meet people who might not be available during regular working hours.

He ll be setting meetings up, preparing presentations, signing kids up through their parents, making baseball a viable summer activity here in Toledo s parks, something s that s been overlooked for way too long, Mr. Garvin said.

The mayor said Thursday that Toledo had more than 200 baseball teams in the 1990s. Last season, there were fewer than 40.

Although he said he would hate to lose Mr. Kreft, Mr. Garvin said Mr. Kreft had the opportunity to revive the baseball program but did not.

Gary was the manager of recreation. He was pretty much it for last two to three years, Mr. Garvin said.

Mr. Kreft has been a utility player in the recreation department, handling a variety of assignments, including briefly managing the Willis B. Boyer museum ship in 2005, since his employment began in 1990.

Mr. Czerniak said the program has dwindled because the department staff has been gutted during budget crises of the last 6 years.

They weren t filling the positions, the ball diamonds were not getting cut. People got fed up and moved out so we got blamed, Mr. Czerniak said.

Also receiving a layoff notice in the recreation division was Stephen White, who supervised the city s swimming pools, which are being closed this year.

Mayor Finkbeiner announced Thursday that 124 city jobs would be cut in order to eliminate an $11.9 million deficit in the 2007 budget.

The proposed general operating fund budget is to be presented to Toledo City Council in a series of hearings this month and must be voted on by March 31. It is $250.7 million, or about 6.2 percent more than the 2006 budget.

The budget hearing for police and fire is scheduled for tomorrow at 2 p.m., while the health and community relations budget hearing will be at 4 p.m., both in Council chambers.

The layoff list included three members of Local 7 and three members of Local 2058, AFSCME, the supervisory union, as well as 17 employees who are exempt from union ranks. Those include five people who came into city patronage jobs after volunteering with Mayor Finkbeiner s campaign for mayor.

The only commissioner on the list is Robert Davis, who is in the neighborhoods department overseeing code enforcement. Two employees of the office of Affirmative Action/Contract Compliance are being let go, apparently as part of the mayor s plan to split the functions into the departments of human resources and finance.

The layoffs affect divisions such as parks, streets, utilities administration, solid waste, environmental services, city auditor, neighborhoods, the youth commission, and development.

Contact Tom Troy at:tomtroy@theblade.comor 419-724-6058.



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