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Budget cuts 13 employees

Township officials still disagree on funding priorities

December 30, 2009 - Despite reaching a compromise to pass the 2010 budget, Independence Township Supervisor Dave Wagner is still disappointed with the budgeting process.

"I'm glad it's over," Wagner said. "We've never been through these kinds of times before, but I considered the process flawed just because of how long it took. There is way too much bickering."

Wagner still couldn't digest the $95,000 added back into Parks and Recreation in order to save programs.

"If we have an extra $95,000 lying around, I think we should be holding onto employees. It doesn't mean in 2011 that they may not have to be cut anyway, but in the meantime, we could probably look at other revenue streams and try and do other things," he said. "We have a whole year to work on it and try and improve ourselves so we don't have so many cuts in '11."

Job cuts for 2010, said Wagner, include one fulltime and one part-time in assessing, fulltime and part-time in Clerk's, part-time in treasurer, two inspectors and two clerical in the building department, and two fulltime and two part-time in Parks and Rec.

Trustee David Lohmeier said he was not happy anyone was losing their job and had wished things would have been "locked in sooner than the holidays."

"I would have liked to have worked on the finer details, but the reality is when you look at the revenue drop, there is no way some jobs weren't going to be lost. I think we did the best of trying to balance maintaining services and minimizing job loss anywhere we could," he said. "The final count, we'll know as soon as every position in the organization is filled. Then we'll know how many total losses there are. Anybody who says an exact number right now is just kind of predicting."

Regarding the extra $95,000 given to Parks and Rec, Lohmeier said he still thinks it was the appropriate thing to do for taxpayers.

"Now we have to keep a very close eye and make sure all the money is spent appropriately all year," he said. "You can count on having a much attuned board to every check written and every bill paid."

Trustee Larry Rosso said it was disappointing knowing cuts were happening to hardworking employees who have done an "excellent job" over the years.

"They're obviously going to be missed, immensely," he said. "It puts more of their work on others who are still here. Unfortunately, the economic circumstances we were dealt, we didn't have any other choice. I know if I was in their boots it would be a very sobering time."

Trustee Mark Petterson said he's afraid the direction the township is traveling and

believes they "might have done too much."

"We got rid of a lot of people," Petterson said. "What disappoints me the most, out of all of this when all is said and done, members of the previous board did absolutely nothing. They didn't try and reconsolidate anything. They were just riding the tide out and letting the next board do it."

Lohmeier also said there was a new position created, for a "super administrator," who would assist the clerk, treasurer, supervisor and assessor, which was talked about at the Dec. 21 meeting. He said Human Resource Director Carol Gabris is currently working on the job description.

"Until I see the job description down to the detail I don't know who at the office may or may not be qualified," Lohmeier said.

However, Wagner said the "super administrator" was turned down and not in the budget.

"The person for me is going to take on more duties, but it's not a super administrator, absolutely not," he said. "My girl is going to take on more responsibilities, but she's not going to be sitting up there and doing work for everybody and not me."

Treasurer Curt Carson agreed the money was not budgeted in either the Supervisor's budget or the budget recommended by Lohmeier.

"There is no money in the budget for it, I don't know where they're going to come up with it because our $100,000 surplus all went to parks and rec," Carson said. "Now, we only have $10,000 surplus and we're going to be lucky to get through just the transition period before we start losing money."

Carson said it's important to keep people employed, "so they can be productive members of our community."

"These people not only work here, but they live here. If they aren't employed, they're going to have the same problems with their mortgages and bills and buying things like everyone else that is unemployed, that just puts us farther away from our goal as far as I'm concerned and the goal is jobs," he said

"That doesn't mean everyone has to have a government job, but at the same time I think we need to put ourselves in a position where we're lean and we can provide the services the people expect and demand. When we're at that level we need to figure out another way to restructure as oppose to just hacking jobs."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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