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CAMPBELL Layoffs are necessary, mayor says



Published: Thu, September 19, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



An 11-year veteran of the Campbell Fire Department estimates the layoffs will cost the city $12,960 in overtime this year.

By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CAMPBELL -- It not easy to lay off good workers, but Mayor Jack Dill said his primary concern is to look after the city.

Although firefighters contend their layoffs, which become effective Oct. 1, put the city in jeopardy, the mayor told a few dozen residents who turned out for Wednesday evening's council meeting that furloughing three full-time firefighters, one full-time police officer, one full-time street department worker and more than a handful of part-time employees in other departments is the only way to keep Campbell from fiscal disaster.

The city stands to lose between $160,000 and $180,000 in taxes as a result of the closing of Cold Metal Products last month.

"The plant closing was just devastating," Mayor Jack Dill said. "That is 10 percent of our general fund."

The city felt the effect of the plant closing immediately, Dill added. "We're hoping the layoffs will save $160,000."

In addition, Dill said the city may consolidate jobs in the water department and is considering contracting with the Mahoning County Health Department rather than continuing to provide those services in the city.

Compounding the situation is the uncertainty of city expenses. Dill said Campbell has received abatements from the Bureau of Workers' Compensation the past three years. Next year there will be no abatement.

As a result, he said, costs to the city will grow from about $30,000 this year to $113,000 next year. Costs for insurance are also likely to increase, he said, and additional taxes could be lost as a result of the trickle-down effect of Cold Metal's shutdown and other factors.

Family concerns

The wife of a soon-to-be-unemployed firefighter questioned the mayor's reasoning in laying off one-third of the fire department.

"Why couldn't you lay off two police officers to save one more job in the fire department, or two street department workers?" asked Rebecca Phillips. "Is it more important to shovel the streets than to have a fire department?"

Phillips' husband is a 10-year veteran of the Campbell Fire Department.

"I have four children, and my health insurance runs out Oct. 1," she said. "You think about that."

Dill responded by telling her that the police department is already operating with less than a full force -- at least two officers are off work.

Greg Rosille, an 11-year veteran of the Campbell Fire Department, questioned the fiscal reasoning behind the layoffs. He estimates the layoffs will cost the city $12,960 in overtime this year, and $73,440 next year with no one calling off.

Firefighters still working will need to work overtime when colleagues take vacation and comp time, Rosille explained.

Dill declined to comment, pending investigation of the figures Rosille cited.

Last week firefighters distributed a flier contending the cost of homeowners insurance for city residents would increase as a result of the layoffs.

The mayor rebutted that contention.

The cost of insurance is based on access to water, whether the city has a full-time fire department and the equipment the city owns.

None of that changes as a result of the layoffs, Dill said, so there should be no increase in the cost of homeowners insurance.

"These are good workers, family men, and it's always hard to lay them off," Dill said, "but I was elected to take care of the city, and I'll do everything I can to keep it in the black."

In other business, city council adopted resolutions to support the Mahoning County sales tax and will set the date and hours for trick-or-treat according to Mayor Dill's recommendation.

kubik@vindy.com




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