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Published: Tuesday, 4/21/2009

234 layoffs would leave Toledo with no one to carry out rules

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Imagine a city without tax collectors or permit inspectors.

No lawyers, zoning officials, or contract compliance specialists, either, and 150 fewer police officers.

Whether such Wild West scenarios strike you as heavenly or frightful, that is how the city of Toledo would look if all 234 employees who received layoff notices last week are indeed laid off next month.

But it turns out some layoffs are more definite than others, and yesterday Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's administration reiterated that only about half of the 142 general-fund workers who received notice Friday actually will be laid off on May 17.

"Not everybody who received a layoff notice is going to be laid off," mayoral spokesman Jason Webber said.

Mr. Webber said the administration is researching what jobs and people to retain, and the question of who will or will not lose their jobs presumably will be decided before the May cut-off date.

The spokesman said he did not know the criteria being considered in the decision process, but noted that some jobs, like law director, are required by the city's charter.

In addition to the general-fund workers' layoffs, notices have been sent to 17 fire civilians and a total 150 police officers.

The police layoffs are effective May 1.

Chief Mike Navarre said that he anticipates having a reorganization plan available tomorrow of how the department will make do with fewer officers.

The department has 614 officers, already the lowest number per 1,000 citizens of any major city in the Midwest, according to Chief Navarre.

The city expects to use $1.2 million of federal grant money to keep 40 of the officers facing layoffs through Nov. 14.

He said Toledo's crime rate has dropped 19 percent in the last three years.

"That's a tribute to the men and women of the police department that they could do so much with less," the chief said, adding that they city has has not had a new police class in three years.

"It's not a question of, can we function? We will function. There will be a reduction in service. We will prioritize," Chief Navarre said.

The city cast a wide net with the 30-day layoff notices to give the administration maximum flexibility in reorganization, Theresa M. Gabriel, an assistant chief operating officer and director of human resources, said.

She also received a layoff notice.

In all, the administration expects about 70 to 90 of the 142 general-fund workers to lose jobs, said Robert Reinbolt, the mayor's chief of staff, who also received his own layoff letter.

Not included in the layoffs are employees with City Council, Municipal Court, and any divisions funded by utility funds or street assessments. Employees paid with grant funds will also keep their jobs.

And starting May 4, all general-fund, executive exempt employees will begin a 32-hour workweek, which equals a 20 percent pay cut.

The layoffs are intended to help bridge a current year budget deficit projected at $20.7 million.

Mayor Finkbeiner's spokesman yesterday dismissed any notion that the mayor is using the high initial number of layoffs as a scare tactic, despite the anarchic notion of a city without any inspectors, collectors, or financial stewards.

"There is no bluffing here," he said.

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6065.s



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