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City workers take buyouts, lower payroll



Published: Sat, September 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Forty-six other employees took the incentive in June.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Eighteen more city workers have accepted a $10,000 incentive to leave the payroll, which will help ease the city's financial woes.

"It will help, not in the short run, but over the next year I believe it will reduce the cost to the general fund," said John Swierz, city council president.

It was the second time this summer that the city paid workers to leave their jobs early. In June, 46 employees took the incentive, saving the city about $300,000 this year.

Swierz did not know exactly how much the city would save by this latest departure of 18 employees. Mayor George M. McKelvey and David Bozanich, the city's financial director, could not be reached.

Recent layoffs

In August, the city laid off 60 workers, including 21 in the police department and 15 firefighters, to help reduce a budget deficit that stands at about $2.1 million even with the layoffs.

Despite the 18 departures, Swierz said the city does not plan to bring any of the laid-off employees back until the deficit is resolved.

"But that could change at any time due to the necessity of keeping public safety," he said.

A half-percent increase in the city income tax that's on the November ballot would generate $7.2 million a year and allow the city to call back some of the laid-off workers.

If the tax doesn't pass, there could be 50 more layoffs, Swierz said.

"Any numbers that we get [signing up for the incentive] will reduce the number of layoffs if the income tax doesn't pass," he said.

Employees had until Sept. 13 to sign up for the incentive and leave their jobs.

Who's leaving

Among those leaving are seven in the police department, two senior assistant law directors, Deputy Tax Commissioner Beverly Bressler, Federal Plaza Director Tamica Green and Health Administrator Charlotte Stahl.

Arlene Thompson, clerk of council, said council has no plans to replace Green because Federal Plaza is being reconstructed. Green has been in the job for two years.

Youngstown Health Commissioner Neil Altman said three of the health department's four administrative workers have left.

"That leaves me," Altman said.

Gone are the health administrator, the secretary and the bookkeeper.

A health department worker is being trained to become the bookkeeper, but there's no money to fill the other vacancies, he said.

Altman said paperwork is building up. "The paperwork on my desk can be measured in feet, not inches," he said.




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