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BOARDMAN TOWNSHIP The costs of layoffs There are concerns about the effects on residents’ safety

Published: Fri, February 29, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

The layoffs amount to nearly $2 million savings this year.



BOARDMAN — The township expects to pay about $748,000 in unemployment and health-care costs this year for the 30 full-time employees laid off.

Administrator Jason Loree said that number could rise depending on how employees receive their accrued sick, vacation and accumulated time. The township must continue health coverage for six months at the levels the employees were receiving.

Part-time employees don’t receive health insurance or unemployment compensation.

Trustees announced the layoffs at a meeting Wednesday as a first step to balance a budget that has had expenses exceeding revenue since 2003. Another step is a plan to place a levy on the ballot, although what type and when hasn’t been determined.

A 4.1-mill general operating levy failed last November.

The layoffs hit nine of the township’s 39 full-time firefighters, all nine part-time firefighters, the fire chief’s secretary, 12 of 27 union road department employees plus the recycling coordinator, seven police civilian employees and three part-time employees from other departments. Another road department employee resigned.

It amounts to about $1.96 million in savings this year, Loree said.

“There are concerns about how responses will be affected in terms of safety services,” said Bert Ehrenberg, president of the North Boardman Neighborhood Block Watch.

He thinks levy passage is vital to the township and believes other revenue generators should also be explored.

The cuts mean changes in township services.

“We’re now trying to align what we’re left with after the layoffs in terms of staffing,” Loree said.

The road department’s three mechanics, including one who works on the police fleet, are among those laid off. The township now has to get that work done elsewhere.

“We had a cruiser with a flat tire today,” Loree said. “Normally, we would have just had the mechanic fix it. We had to have the car towed to a dealership, the tire changed and had to have an officer go pick it up.”

Layoffs also led to the closure Wednesday night and Thursday of the South Avenue fire station. The department has to have enough people working per shift to staff all three stations.

Harry Wolfe, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1176, which represents township firefighters, is concerned about the safety of the community because of the cuts.

“Do you think St. E’s chose to build a new hospital here to have a skeleton crew of safety forces?” he asked.

He also questions why employees weren’t told about the township’s dire financial condition. Last month, the township and union signed a three-year contract calling for 2.5 percent raises each year.

“Why didn’t they say that there was no money?” he said. “If we would have known that, we would have taken a different approach just like we have to do in the next 90 days.”

Any concessions or other cost savings produced from employees in the next 90 days will be used in those respective departments. Concessions could save some jobs and reduce the layoff numbers, trustees have said.

Both Wolfe and Mark Bestic, president of the Township Workers Association, which represents road department employees, said there had been concerns that if their unions made concessions the savings would be used in other departments.

Bestic has been a township employee for six years and is among those now unemployed because of layoff.

“We’re going to go back and hopefully, we can bring back some people as soon as we can,” Bestic said.

That union is in talks with township officials to try to develop new contract terms to save money and jobs.

His members are frustrated and confused, and some are angry.

“We brought 0 percent raises to the table and they’re still going after 13 of us,” Bestic said, referring to a new road department contract.

While most employees learned their fate Wednesday night from their respective department heads, those in the police department were told they were still employed.

Chief Patrick Berarducci “told us that we were ‘on the bubble,’ but we still had jobs,” one of those employees said. “I came to work” Thursday.

The chief called them in to a meeting Thursday morning to give them the bad news.

Berarducci said he believed that if respective department heads could make sufficient cuts in their budgets they wouldn’t have to lay people off. Loree told him Thursday morning that number crunching is to occur after the issuance of layoff notices.

“The chief made a mistake,” Berarducci said.


1apollo(1227 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

How stupid is the president of the firefighters union. He claims that they weren't aware of the dire financial condition in the township! Does he not read? Were the firefighters unaware of the financial conditions? What a bunch of liars. Came to the table with zero percent raises when the township is running a deficit! Are people really this stupid? Blaming everyone except who is really at fault. The unions bankrupted the township with outrageous demands and past trustees and administrators just gave them everything they wanted. 39 million in inheritance dollars given away to the unions.

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2Tugboat(759 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

What bankrupted the township was shaping or adding jobs to fit the imperatives of technology(an improved means to a not always improved end); hiring more personnel well knowing future finances would be dire; police substation; paying for a performance audit which only confirmed what they already knew; authorizing overtime for a parade instead of asking the sponsors and/or the participants(mostly politicians) to pick up the tab; firing Seditz instead of letting him fulfill his contract; police chief's salary and ...on and on it goes....

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3MahoningCountyRealtor(2 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

Boardman has done a lousy job attacking this problem. Their trustees are like a bunch of turtles hiding their heads inside their shells.
Attention elected officials: You do not wait until the wolf is at the door. You are elected (hired) to do what is in the best interest of your community. Nobody cares if your job is part time, full time, low pay or high pay. You ran for the job, got it, now do it!
While you were hiding in your shells you allowed precious time to tick away, leaving your community at risk. You have let down those who elected you, those who live in your community, businesses that have located inside your community and anyone who travels to or through your community.
Union bashers can fault unions all they want but unions do not set the level of pay. The elected officials vote for or against contracts. Police, fire and service workers are generally prohibited from going out on strike by law.
They knew this day was coming over a year ago and what did they do? They waited until March of an election year to scare-straight the residents of Boardman.
Shame on you Boardman Trustees. You could have had something on the ballot next week but you preferred to terrorize your community for the next 7 months.
In China, ineffective leaders are often executed. Too bad we cannot arrange an export of the ineffective Boardman leaders.

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4apollo(1227 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

The realtor above is not correct. The wolf has been at the door for many years. (at least 10) Using inheritance tax dollars to fund day to day operations and provide continual 4% raises and cadillac benefits, build new fire stations, new admin building, and the new sub station while the township revenues were not growing to keep pace with the growing wage and benefit structure is what caused this emergency. Also, the sweet union contracts were continually passed by past trustees who then received endorsements from those same unions. Anyone see a problem with that? Then when one trustee wanted to sit in on the negotiations, the other 2 trustees were successful in denying her that. Past trustees, administrators, and department heads treated taxpayer dollars like monopoly money. If they had it they spent it. Now the employees want us taxpayers to believe that there are only 2 options. Either accept less services or pass a levy. Well, there is another option. Wage and benefit cuts across the board to save jobs and NO TAX LEVY.

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5columbus1(7 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

I'm wondering if the people that live and work in Boardman are seeing the big picture? Homes, large apartment complexes, shopping plazas as far as the eye can see, nursing homes, medical compexes,schools,and a new hospital all at risk. If a fire breaks out, you have about 8 firefighters to come to your aid. What if another emergency is going on and fire companies are tied up? There is NO WAY 8-10 firefighters a day, attepting to man 3 station can protect the people that live and work in Boardman Township. Your lives are at risk people, I hope you see that. You need to let your trustees know. Everyone of you should picket anad show up at the next trustees meeting, your lives depend on it!

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6apollo(1227 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

The above poster, Columbus1, must be a firefighter or firefighter union rep trying to scare you. Hey, maybe we need 1000 firefighters because you never know when 100 fires might break out simultaneously! LOL. The BIG PICTURE is the current employees need to take pay cuts to save jobs. Lordstown workers took pay cuts to save jobs. Delphi workers took pay cuts to save jobs. Forum workers took pay cuts to save jobs. What about township workers making more than Lordstown, Delphi, and Firum workers? Are they willing to bite the bullet also? Or is there greed so bad that they don't care about the taxpayers?

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7Tugboat(759 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

apollo - please provide average salaries for a Lordstown or Delphi worker to enhance your case.

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8apollo(1227 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

After Delphi filed for bankruptcy, its chairman and CEO, Robert "Steve" Miller, said that the company needs to get rid of a "substantial" number of its North American operations and reduce its 51,000-member workforce. He wants the UAW to agree to concessions that would reduce members'average wage-and-benefit packages from about $65 an hour to about $20 or $25 an hour. Of that total compensation package, the hourly wage alone would drop from $27 to $10 if Miller has his way. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Miller said Delphi cannot stand up to non-union competitors if it has to pay such high wages and the kind of blue-ribbon benefits UAW members now enjoy. He called the traditional defined-benefit pension plan that Americans have come to expect in the last 50 or 60 years an "anachronism."

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