Layoffs loom in city restructuring

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — The new year began with the city facing the same old problems, and City Manager Greg Capote said that City Hall’s financial problems may soon impact municipal employees.

The January calendar quickly filled with special meetings and study sessions as city council prepares for a Jan. 23 meeting to appoint department heads. Among the many considerations is whether management will be asked to accept a pay cut as officials wrestle with a looming budget deficit.

“We recommended back in early December a number of layoffs and reorganization of city hall,” Capote said.

Those decisions, including the potential layoff of four city hall employees, were among the topics expected yesterday during a rare Saturday study session. Capote said the meeting was set to review recommendations made last month by Plante Moran, which presented a projected deficit of $2.4 million budget shortfall for the year beginning July 1.

The city, Capote said, was on the brink of running out of money. Recommendations made by Plante Moran in December were to be considered, which included layoffs, elimination of the Downtown Development Authority, increased fees, a promotional tax and reduction of city services.

Also on the table is a request that department heads, the mayor and city council accept a pay cut. Capote said that those decisions were on hold until after Saturday’s session.

City management and department authority remains awaiting confirmations of public safety appointments. Both the police and fire departments have been operating with interim chiefs since last year’s resignations by Thomas Karnes and Paul Murray, respectively.

Interviews by the Public Safety Commission for the police job were put on hold; fire chief interviews were set for Thursday. Capote said no final decisions had yet been made. Some city services may be merged with neighboring communities during budget-saving restructuring.