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Published: Friday, 4/17/2009

Up to 350 city workers face layoffs

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

The Finkbeiner administration plans to issue layoff notices to as many as 350 city employees today or Monday to stave off a rising 2009 city deficit, according to Bob Reinbolt, the mayor s chief of staff.

Mr. Reinbolt said that given the city s fiscal condition, 350 city workers is in the ballpark of the number that could be let go.

The 30-day notices would impact all departments in the general fund, including police, fire, and trash collection employees, including both unionized and exempt employees. The city has about 1,800 employees in general fund departments.

He cautioned that top city managers had not yet decided who to lay off, nor have they arrived at a number.

We want to present to the mayor [today] some options for him to look at, Mr. Reinbolt said. You have to do something since council hasn t passed the revenue enhancement and the unions have not agreed to concessions.

To raise cash to eliminate a projected $27.7 million budget deficit this year, the administration has asked Toledo City Council to approve an increase in the trash collection fee and require city residents who work outside Toledo to pay half of the city income taxes they would owe if they worked in the city. An estimated 19,250 Toledoans fall into that category and pay no income taxes to the city.

After several meetings and much debate, council has not acted on the revenue proposals, instead deciding week after week to put off final votes.

Mr. Finkbeiner also has asked council for authority to declare exigent circumstances an emergency and impose a 10 percent across-the-board pay cut on unionized police and fire personnel, require officers to begin paying part of their health-care premiums, and end the practice of the city paying for the workers share of annual premiums to their pensions.

The administration is negotiating with the union representing police officers over a contract that expired Dec. 31.

Mr. Reinbolt said a fact-finder would step in next week unless a new contract can be reached.

Also in negotiations are the police command officers union and the Toledo Firefighters Local 92 union.

Councilman Frank Szol-losi has introduced legislation that would implement up to 341 layoffs if the unions refuse to make concessions and if council refuses to raise taxes.

It s a painful reality and one that can be mitigated by concessions. If we re asking nonunion employees to take pay cuts and givebacks on pensions, it s up to the bargaining units to go along with something like that or face layoffs, Mr. Szollosi said.

Under his plan, the city would have saved $18.2 million for the remainder of 2009 by eliminating 151 police officers, 100 firefighters, and 90 nonsafety personnel.

Mr. Reinbolt said the problem with Mr. Szollosi s plan is that the city cannot lay off large numbers of firefighters because the contractual requirement of a minimum of 103 firefighters per shift would trigger large overtime costs.



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