Taylor considers options to avoid takeover

Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — Before any further discussion about restoring the Taylor Fire Department to pre-layoff levels, the city is racing against the clock to trim millions of dollars from its budget.

Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand confirmed last week that two positions in the Department of Public Works were eliminated, and others may follow.

“Everything is absolutely on the table,” Lamarand said of staff reductions that may be necessary for the city to avoid Emergency Financial Management takeover by the state.

Taylor officials have until Feb. 17 to present a plan outlining two specific goals: Eliminate a projected $5 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year; propose a five-year strategy for debt elimination.

On Jan. 27, DPW Executive Director David Mackie was given a 30-day termination notice, and the department’s administrative assistant was likewise informed that her position would be eliminated. Lamarand said that Director of Building and Safety Rocky Alazazi will be responsible for supervising DPW operations.

As of press time, Lamarand said no other positions had been eliminated, although that may change.

“We’ve looked at every position to figure out which way to go,” Lamarand said. “If worse comes to worse, we’ll have to make some real tough decisions.”

Lamarand and city officials have met frequently with employee union representatives and attorneys; Tuesday’s regular meeting of the city council may include a preview of further cuts or decisions, to include a state mediator’s ruling that 15 firefighters laid off in June 2011 must return to duty.

The city’s options, Lamarand said, are limited.

“We’ve been cutting millions of dollars out of the budget, and still have a projected $5 million shortfall,” Lamarand said.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)