The Finkbeiner administration called on all full-time city employees yesterday to step up and volunteer to work part-time, take an unpaid leave of absence, or agree to take a permanent layoff to help close a $8.1 million deficit from 2008.
"One month ago, Mayor [Carty] Finkbeiner sent a notice to all city of Toledo employees regarding the current financial crisis of the city," Robert Reinbolt, the mayor's chief of staff, wrote to all employees. "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."
The city also asked employees to consider working four, nine-hour days - for a total of a 36-hour work week. Twenty employees have expressed interest in that option, Mr. Reinbolt said.
Also yesterday, Toledo Councilman Joe McNamara blasted the mayor for dragging his feet on presenting a plan to handle the crisis or responding to an idea he had offered.
"The Finkbeiner administration is taking forever," Mr. McNamara said during council's agenda review meeting. "... I am really tired of waiting for the mayor to respond to this crisis."
Mr. Reinbolt said the plan would be presented this week and stressed the importance of reviewing it thoroughly.
But Mr. McNamara was not convinced.
Council was told Jan. 29 of the $8.1 million shortfall from 2008 - which was a surprise, because in December it used $8 million of unspent capital improvement money to help plug a deficit.
"I immediately left that finance committee meeting and sat down with the clerk of council and started brainstorming to close the hole," Mr. McNamara said. "That was [the] 29th and five days later, I presented a plan to council for almost $1 million."
He offered a list of nearly $1 million more in unspent capital projects, which could be redirected to help balance the $8.1 million deficit for 2008.
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.
Mr. Reinbolt said the mayor's announcement this week would also include big revisions to the 2009 budget so the city isn't in the same position in 12 months - scrambling to plug a huge deficit.
This year's budget is already austere. It 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.
Toledo City Council President Mark Sobczak said it was unlikely many employees would volunteer to cut their pay.
"It's all voluntary, so it opens the door to help people who don't want to do this," Mr. Sobczak said. "Most people work because they have to, not because they want to, so we probably won't get a huge response."
He said the mayor has a plan to address the shortfalls in the 2008 and 2009 budgets.
It would seem that more layoffs are inevitable, he predicted.
"When you trim out 15 to 20 percent of the general fund budget over three years, and 80 percent of your general funds in personnel costs - fill in the blanks," he said.
A yet-to-be announced number of city employees are expected to start a temporary layoff next week.
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.
He said the number would include none of the employees in the 800-member American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 7, the largest city of Toledo union, because they accepted concessions in a new contract.
The union recently ratified a three-year contract that freezes salaries for the first two years while increasing co-pay costs for health care, among other concessions.
Council yesterday also reviewed a proposal offered by D. Michael Collins and Phillip Copeland that required their staff of about a dozen to take five furlough days in 2009.
Unlike the mayor's order, the ordinance allows the employee to take the unpaid time off in four or eight-hour increments on any day before the end of 2009.
Contact Ignazio Messina at:
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The Finkbeiner administration called on all full-time city employees yesterday to step up and volunteer to work part-time, take an unpaid leave of absence, or agree to take a permanent layoff to help close a $8.1 million deficit from 2008. "One month ago, Mayor [Carty] Finkbeiner sent a notice to all city of Toledo employees regarding the current financial crisis of the city," Robert Reinbolt, the mayor's chief of staff, wrote to all employees. "I wish I could advise you the situation has changed for the better, but it has worsened."