Balanced budget could bring layoffs

Posted by Cody Holyoke -bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The mayor had his chance to balance the budget.  Now, it's the city council's turn.

Tuesday afternoon, members went line by line through Mayor Todd Strange's $218 million proposal, making sure the suggestions were financially sound.

Council members discussed a move which would cutting funding to many outside programs. Organizations like SAYNO, substance abuse programs, and the Arts Council of Montgomery would have to look elsewhere for funding.

"Most of the organizations that actually got cut are getting funds elsewhere--whether it be C.D.B.G., whether it be homeless funds, or chemical addiction funds--outside of the budget process," Strange explained.

Recycling also proved to be a hot topic.  Curbside service will go away this year under the proposal.

The concerns, however, lie with changing the program all together.  Right now, only 25% of recyclables actually get recycled, according to city leaders.

"Even if we do away with the costs of curbside pickup, we still have the issue of capacity, no matter what," said Councilor Martha Roby.

Cutting the budget also means taking a hard look at personnel.

Under the mayors proposal, 45 or so custodial employees could be out of work to make way for a private company.

The move would save nearly $700,000, but at least one council member says the cuts are simply out of the question.

"These are the main people who are at the lower end of the pay scale, who need the city benefits. Whose families need the city benefits and the pay," said Councilor Willie Cook.

It's something the mayor says he'll take into consideration as the city moves forward.

"We've talked in terms of--if we can have attrition for that kind of the money, then it may not be necessary," Strange said.

However, the mayor also admitted coming up with the needed $667,000 through attrition alone probably won't happen in time to save the jobs.

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