To cull $6.5 million from next year’s city budget, some drastic actions are being considered at City Hall.
More city employee positions will probably be eliminated, bringing personnel levels below where they were 24 years ago; the Lido Beach pool could be closed six months out of the year; the Children’s Fountain might close for four months each year; greens and cart fees could be increased at Bobby Jones Golf Course; and the frequency of residential street sweeping could be dramatically reduced.
With yet another decrease in property tax revenues, the city is contending with a smaller tally in the collection of its primary revenue source.
City Manager Bob Bartolotta said he hopes no one has to be laid off — that the elimination of 13 positions can be handled through attrition.
Some employees will be retiring; their positions will not be filled. Five other employees are applying for other vacant jobs at City Hall.
“That’s the good news,” said Bartolotta. “We won’t have people losing jobs. They will have comparable positions.”
The positions proposed for the chopping block include those of a deputy human resources director, investment director, code-compliance coordinator, utility billing field service representative, street-sweeper mechanic, vehicle-maintenance inventory technician and six police-department support positions — none of them police officers.
The savings will be tempered, though, with the addition of eight new positions — one in the finance department, four at the soon-to-be-opened Robert L. Taylor Recreation Center, in Newtown, and three in the parking division, although with the bagging of parking meters until at least October, the future of those positions will have to be discussed.
In terms of savings steps the public will notice, residential street sweeping may be reduced from once a month to once a quarter; the popular Children’s Fountain at Bayfront Park may be closed for four months in the offseason; the Lido Pool could be shuttered for six offseason months; longer processing times may become the norm for such activities as obtaining permits and seeing requests for service fulfilled; and greens fees at Bobby Jones Golf Course could increase by as much as 3.4%, while holders of a basic annual pass might not be able to get a tee time before 1 p.m. in the height of tourist season.
Those possibilities will be discussed at two budget hearings from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 19 and 20, at City Hall. A town-hall meeting concerning the proposed budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 20, at City Hall.
Contact Rachel Brown Hackney at [email protected]
To see a breakdown of the numbers, click here.
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.