In an attempt to offset a shortfall of roughly $200,000, the Porterdale City Council voted to make some drastic reductions in several areas, including two layoffs and a cut in both hours and salaries of their workers.
"We're following the same lines of many other cities across the state," said Porterdale City Manager Tom Fox. "All of these changes are temporary - just until the city is in a better financial situation."
The changes Fox referred to involve the layoff of two city employees - one in public works and the code enforcement position - with the potential for a third position in the near future. But it doesn't end there. City employees will go from paying 13 percent of their health insurance benefits to paying 40 percent. City employees will also see a 20 percent decrease in hours - from 40 to 32 a week - and a 20 percent decrease in their pay as well.
City employees who were issued cell phones will have those services cut, as will the cleaning and extermination services to the city annex. Public servants will no longer be able to take cars home with them; this includes police officers, the city manager, code enforcement and the public works supervisor. The exception to this cut will be the chief of police and the city's K-9 officer. The city's police officers will see a 20 percent decrease in their hours, though Fox is quick to say the city will still have enough man hours to cover the city at all times.
There was talk among council members of raising the millage rate in order to help the city, but currently the council has decided not to raise taxes or fees, according to Fox. Instead, city employees will take the brunt of things in order to keep the citizens from feeling the sting of a tax increase.
"Without being able to raise taxes and fees, it only leaves us with the option to cut our expenses," Fox said. "It's pretty basic - it boils down to simple math. Every employee - including myself - has to sacrifice a little for the city. So far the employees understand we need to pull together as a municipal family right now."
According to Fox the only other option for the city would be to layoff more workers, something he says the other employees are willing to take a pay cut to keep from happening. Without two layoffs and the changes the council has decided to make, the city would have to layoff four additional workers in order to make up for the money they save with the reductions and cuts they have decided to implement.
"It seems like we are having one financial challenge after another," said Fox. "And we are not alone. These are some pretty significant changes for a small staff like ours and we just hope the economy improves and we can restore the same level of service we have been providing. We still feel we can provide the essential services but we will be doing it a lot leaner.
"The city workers will be the ones to make the sacrifice," Fox added, "so that the citizens don't have to. The easy fix would be to raise taxes but no one wants to do that."