Five Normal employees to lose their jobs due to budget cuts

2010-01-12T18:10:00Z Five Normal employees to lose their jobs due to budget cutsBy Mary Ann Ford | mford@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com
January 12, 2010 6:10 pm  • 

NORMAL — Five town employees will lose their jobs April 1 in Normal’s continuing effort to watch the general fund’s bottom line.

The layoffs will save $175,000 and are part of the proposed fiscal year 2010-11 budget that will be reviewed by the City Council during a work session from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 23 in the council chambers of City Hall, 100 E. Phoenix Ave.

The proposed budget contains no new initiatives or positions and shows all town funds in the black, said Assistant City Manager Pamela Reece.

“If we hadn’t taken the steps we did in 2008-09 and 2009-10, we’d be in a very different situation today,” Reece said.

During both fiscal years, the City Council approved some new revenue sources, cut expenses and eliminated new positions. Several positions that became vacant during that time, including an assistant street supervisor, a custodian and a public works parts clerk, were not replaced.

Full-time staff has dropped from 370 people in fiscal year 2008-09 to 361 in 2010-11.

Reece said the town does not intend to replace the five positions — in the police, legal, inspections and engineering departments — being eliminated in the 2010-11 budget.

“Their duties will be incorporated into existing positions,” Reece said. “There will be no impact on services to the public.”

The budget also would eliminate the town’s preschool program, Harmon Arts Grants and City Vision television program and increase the local sales tax from 7.5 percent to 7.75 percent, property tax levy by 9.16 percent and some other fees. All are part of a plan favored by the City Council in November.

All steps are an attempt to stop an eroding general fund reserve that has been affected by the recession.

Reece said that when the 2009-10 budget was adopted, officials expected the reserve fund to end up at 8.4 percent of the $48.7 million general fund at the end of the fiscal year. Now the reserves are expected to drop to 4.2 percent because of declining sales tax and state income tax revenue, she said.

Overall unemployment throughout the state reduced state income tax revenue by 18.6 percent from last year. The town had projected only a 2 percent reduction.

Sales tax revenue was expected to increase 2.25 percent over last year, Reece said, but in reality it is down 3 percent. The two state revenue sources are among the biggest for the general fund.

“We’re in a cautious area … if we continue to dip into savings, there will be no savings left,” she said.

On the positive side, an October increase in water rates has lifted the usually sagging water fund and a proposed new sewer maintenance fee and planned rate increase is expected to do the same for the sewer fund.

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