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Published: Tuesday, 2/10/2009

Mayor Finkbeiner says Toledo financial crisis has 'worsened'

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Finkbeiner administration called on full-time city employees Tuesday to step up and volunteer to work part-time, take unpaid leave of absence, or even a layoff.

Robert Reinbolt, chief of staff to Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, sent a letter to all employees regarding the financial crisis faced by the city.

"One month ago, Mayor Finkbeiner sent a notice to all city of Toledo employees regarding the current financial crisis of the city," he wrote. "I wish I could advise you the situation has changed for the better, but it has worsened."

Mr. Reinbolt said the city needs to consider alternatives to "mass and involuntary layoffs."

He is also asking employees to consider working four, nine-hour days, for a total of a 36-hour work week.

Mr. Finkbeiner this week is expected to announce cutbacks, "salary adjustments" for some of his top staff, and a temporary but "indefinite layoff" for a number of city employees to cut costs in the face of an $8.1 million deficit from last year and a shortfall now expected for 2009.

In December, the Finkbeiner administration sent out more than 1,000 layoff notices to city employees. Mr. Reinbolt said the number of employees forced to take time off beginning next week would be "significantly reduced," but the length of time had not been determined.

Toledo City Council learned Jan. 29 that the city is about $8.1 million in the red from 2008. Council in December already had used $8 million of unspent capital improvement money to help plug a deficit, so the new figure came as a shock to some people.

That deficit was discovered after approval of the 2009 city budget, which had $21 million in cuts. This year s budget does not include money to hire police cadets or firefighters and requires layoffs and mandated unpaid time off for city employees, the closing of all but one public pool, a reduction of funds for the city s criminal justice program and Toledo Municipal Court, and wage freezes for city workers.

The city s $6.4 million rainy-day fund could be applied to the 2008 deficit, but because $2 million of that money is earmarked for the 2009 general-fund budget, the 2009 plan now needs to be revised.

Contact Ignazio Messina at imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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