City of Sebastian cutting jobs, shutting down one day a month to save cash

 By Lisa ZahnerSEBASTIAN — The City of Sebastian released its proposed 2009-2010 budget Friday, which provides for furloughs of its 133 full-time and 50 part-time employees, department reorganizations and possible elimination of the Deputy Police Chief position.The total general fund budget is being reduced by $1.05 million from $11.85 million to $10.8 million. Budgets for the golf course, building department and airport are separate as those are self-supporting entities. The furloughs alone — which affect both union and non-union employees  — will save the City $300,000 or 4.6 percent of the payroll, according to City Manager Al Minner. “It will apply to everyone from the City Manager to the maintenance workers,” Minner said. “The Police Department will be furloughed, too, but the days will be staggered.” Minner said he has formally notified and met with employees regarding the furloughs and he has already met with the representatives from the Communication Workers of America local representatives, which represents a segment of the City employees and that an agreement is in the works.Beginning October 1, City Hall and work on public works projects will shut down one day per month as an unpaid City holiday. The public will be notified of the schedule in advance to avoid inconvenience to residents.”It will also lower utility costs and save fuel used for public work trips to the job site,” said Finance Director Ken Killgore.If the proposed budget is accepted, the finance department will be laying off two full-time employees, for a savings of $51,500 plus benefits and the human resources and finance departments will meld into one department called Administrative Services, which would be responsible for project management as well. Not filling the Deputy Police Chief position left vacant by new Chief Michelle Morris will save the department $94,500 plus benefits. Minner said if someone is placed in this position, it will be a “budget neutral” move. Public works and parks department positions being left vacant by retirements will not be filled. These cuts follow the elimination of the City Engineer in May as part of a mid-year reduction in the 2008-2009 budget.”In June, the property appraiser estimated a 16.5 percent decrease in property values, so we had anticipated deep cuts,” Killgore said. “Now that it is only a 12 percent reduction, it’s not as bad as we had prepared for it to be.”Even with all those cuts, the city will still need to balance the budget with an estimated $375,000 out of its unrestricted general fund reserves to keep the millage rate down to 3.3456, or about $3.34 for every $1,000 in taxable value. It’s a tough year in Sebastian, which expects to see a $281,000 decrease (about 12%) in property tax receipts in the coming year due to decreased property values, which at an aggregate level are down from $1.31 billion to $1.16 billion.The city has applied for a grant of federal stimulus funds to pay for two new beat cops on the street. No word yet on the status of that grant.The Public Budget Review Advisory Committee will meet at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall. Budget workshops are scheduled for August 24, with public hearings of the 2009-2010 budget to be held September 14 and 23. For more information, contact City Clerk Sally Maio at (772) 589-5330.

Related Articles

Comments are closed.