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City staff cuts begin

by David Chapman, Staff Writer

The City has released the names of more than 150 people whose positions have been eliminated in the next fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Another 150 City workers will be demoted from their current positions for additional budget savings.

The layoffs and demotions will take effect Sept. 29.

Among the harder hit departments in this round of layoffs and reductions:

• Public Works will be cut by 50 positions.

• The Jacksonville Public Library will have 33 positions eliminated. In addition, the library also leads in demotions with 75 of the little more than 100 listed.

• Intra-Governmental services will be reduced by 26 positions, which include cuts in procurement and the administrative services division.

• The Jacksonville Children’s Commission will be reduced by 16 positions, which includes the deputy director title.

• Neighborhoods will have seven positions eliminated.

• Another seven will be eliminated from Employee Services.

The list of cuts does not include reductions in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

David DeCamp, Mayor Alvin Brown’s communications director, said Thursday that the reductions were the ones expected from Brown’s initial budget proposal in July. DeCamp said he was unaware of any further planned eliminations.

He also said in an email that the total value of eliminated positions and demotions do not yet have a total savings figure because it is still being calculated. Some positions do not have an impact on the City’s general fund.

In the email, DeCamp said the cuts were “among the most difficult decisions we ever have to make. But extraordinary budget challenges for the fiscal year of 2012-13 have forced us to do so as a last resort.”

Notifications are taking place throughout the week and employees will remain working before transitioning to paid administrative leave prior to the elimination of their positions.

The City is also providing career transition services and the individuals affected by layoffs will have priority for remaining vacancies, he said in the email. In addition, the City is partnering with WorkSource to have a career fair with local employers.

Brown presented a $945 million budget for fiscal 2012-13, which was down from the City Council approved $958 million budget for the current year. Brown has attributed reductions in sales and property tax revenues as reasons for the reduced budget.

The Council Finance Committee reviewed Brown’s proposed budget throughout August and must tentatively approve a balanced budget before passing it before the end of September.

Complicating matters was the revelation Wednesday that the budget the committee has been analyzing might have another deficit of between $5 million to $7 million due to rising heart and hypertension claims by City employees. That means more money will be needed in risk management subfunds to compensate the claims.

That final figure is still to be determined and will be revisited in two weeks after analysis by the Council Auditor’s Office and its meetings with various departments.

dchapman@baileypub.com

356-2466

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