Hubbard officials weigh cutting streets position

By John w. Goodwin jr.

HUBBARD — City officials may be eliminating a position and cutting back on work hours for another employee in an effort to balance the city’s 2009 budget.

Council members have discussed abolishing the superintendent of streets position and making the mayor’s secretary a part-time position and eliminating health-care benefits for that position.

Mayor Arthur Magee does not agree with the proposed cuts, however. He said Street Superintendent Paul Collins is an excellent supervisor with no complaints from the public. Magee said secretary Laurie Brown handles a litany of responsibilities in the mayor’s office and needs more than part-time hours to do those things.

“They are going to cut the money for Laurie and Paul and use that money someplace else,” he said. “They are doing this to help with the financial problems the city has, but there isn’t enough [additional money] there to give a canary a bath.”

Councilman Patton Gilliland, however, said making the proposed cuts in the two positions will be just what the city needs to balance the books. He said the city needs to find about $80,000 in savings this year.

Gilliland said cutting Brown to 30 hours a week will mean a savings of about $7,000 in pay, and abolishing the superintendent’s position will mean a savings of about $42,000 in pay. The savings, Gilliland said, will be between $70,000 and $80,000 once health-care costs are considered.

Gilliland said the street department will now be supervised by a working foreman. He said abolishing the superintendent of streets position was the most sensible job elimination for the city.

“He [superintendent of streets] is over five men, and by contract is not allowed to do any actual street work. We are paying him that kind of money to ride around in a truck. I come from the old school, and I believe in keeping the man who is doing the actual work,” he said.

Magee said Collins operates a stellar department. He also said funds generated from mayor’s court here are more than enough to cover any costs associated with his secretary.

The mayor said there also was some discussion concerning removal of his health-care benefits, but that idea has since gone by the wayside.

“They said my job isn’t full time, then what is it,” he said, adding he still conducts mayor’s court, for which he doesn’t get paid, and his phone is on for the public to call him on weekends.

Gilliland said he understands the mayor is not supportive of the proposal, but said the city is being directly affected by changes in the economy. “Things are just bad out there,” he said.