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Sarasota Thursday, Jun. 24, 2010 7 years ago

City cuts jobs, reduces services

by: Robin Roy City Editor

Faced with a deficit of $1.6 million in the current fiscal year and a $5 million hole in next year’s budget, the city eliminated 35 job positions and warned of serious cuts in service.

“We have to lower the public’s expectations,” said City Manager Bob Bartolotta. “We can’t continue to maintain the current level of service with 25% fewer employees.”

Of the 35 positions that were cut, 18 were vacant, 13 were layoffs and four were employees placed into other jobs within city government. The job losses came from nine city departments (see box). The police department was not affected.

The total savings will be $1.8 million per year.

But even with those savings, the city will still have to cut more than $3 million from the 2011 budget. The most likely place to see the effects is in the level of service the city provides its citizens.

“I’m going to have to take a stand and say no to new initiatives,” Bartolotta told commissioners June 21. He urged the commission to let residents know that they will not be able to expect the same service to which they’ve become accustomed.

The city manager said despite the loss of 191 positions at City Hall over the past three years, citizens’ day-to-day calls for service have not waned.

The loss of 13 employees in the public works department, including six who work on landscaping operations, will mean that there will be fewer people to trim trees and maintain plant beds around the city.

“We’re not going to be able to do the things we used to,” said Todd Kucharski, general manager of parks and recreation. “We cannot sustain where we were four years ago.”

The city is also eliminating three garbage collectors, which will likely result in less frequent emptying of public trash cans along the street and in parks.

Commissioner Terry Turner suggested Kucharski expand the use of volunteers to help maintain smaller neighborhood parks.

Hours of operation at some parks may also be reduced to account for the loss in personnel.

“It’s unfortunate, but these economic times require it,” said Kucharski.

Department                 Jobs cut
Public works                   13
Utilities                             6
Neighborhood and
development services      5
Recreation facilities          3
City manager’s office        2
Human resources             2
Finance                             2
Information technology     1
Van Wezel                        1

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