Vero Mayor Sawnick says all budget cutting options on the table

VERO BEACH — Vero Beach Mayor Kevin Sawnick said Wednesday the city must continue to cut the budget in face of declining revenues, and left open the possibility of layoffs, extending furloughs and increased employee contributions to the city’s health benefits.”All options must be on the table,” Sawnick said at an Indian River County Taxpayer’s Association meeting. He said he would be presenting some cost-cutting proposals at the next city budget workshop next month. One item Sawnick said he is considering is a 10 percent pay cut, possibly across the board, but certainly for the city’s highest paid employees. The city will also consider eliminating $832,000 in benefit payouts next year by making employees pick up more of the costs and paying higher deductibles.”If they (employees) want better benefits it will be available to them, but they would have to pay for it out of their pocket,” he said.The mayor also said city employee furloughs might have to be extended beyond the current one day a month as another way of cutting costs. He did say after the meeting he will continue to return part of his city salary to match the money employees are losing due to the furloughs.Sawnick said he is in a unique position when it comes to the budget as a state employee facing budget cuts from his employer and as mayor with the responsibility of making cost-cutting decisons on the city’s $121 million budget.On the subject of Vero Electric Sawnick said he thinks the city is now on the right path to making a decision on the utility and left open the option that the city would sell the utility.In fact, he promised to sign a petition County Commission candidate Charlie Wilson plans to circulate to have the sale of the utility put to a referendum. Sawnick did not say he hasn’t made a decision on if the sale of the utility is the right thing to do, but he was in favor of voter’s having a say on the issue.

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