An ad-hoc committee including Vice Mayor Kurt Vander Weide and Councilman Ted Howze came up with a restructuring plan for Municipal Services that includes an employee decrease of two while saving $258,334.65 from the General Fund.
This proposal may decrease quality of services as there will be no “management” and less supervising while possibly creating inefficiency costing more in the end. Either way, this is a major decision with many issues about how the City of Turlock “manages” our tax dollars. Misallocation and mismanagement of funds are now being questioned.
The current City Council may be voting on a major Municipal Services restructuring plan at Tuesday night’s Council Meeting despite the fact that 2 Councilwomen Elect, Amy Bublak and Mary Jackson, will be seated only three weeks from now. Vice Mayor Kurt Vander Weide did not get re-elected and will be be off the Council in three weeks. People would think that a major decision such as this would include the Councilwomen Elect as they will have to deal with the possible long lasting quality of life impacts and job loss. People would also think that the two newly elected would like to skip out on a decision having to cut jobs. Hopefully they speak up either way to show leadership.
The desired General Fund savings are the result to make up an approximate $1.3 million budget deficit the current Council recently approved to pay for expanded Police (Phase II of the Police Strategic Plan) and Fire personnel. The deficit created by the reoccurring costs of expanded personnel was covered from the Reserve Fund usually used for one time expenditures. Unless the City of Turlock comes up with increased revenue or saves money every year during hard times, the deficit may carry over every year.
The restructuring plan proposes cutting 2 manager positions (Recreation Manager and Parks, Streets, Assessments, Buildings, and Grounds Manager) that total about $332,000 with benefits. The cuts came from a previous Council Meeting when Councilman Howze stated that Municipal Services was “management heavy.” The proposal includes the creation of a higher management position, a Parks, Recreation, Streets, Assessments, Buildings, and Grounds Department Head, costing about $197,300.
Does it make sense to cut out all managers and create a higher director position trying to oversee all these divisions?
The proposal calls for filling a Public Facilities Maintenance Superintendant position that will cost about $117,500 with benefits but then eliminates the lower position of Public Facilities Maintenance Supervisor that costs $114,700 with benefits. This position is not funded from the General Fund despite overseeing General Fund areas. The current PFM Supervisor would move to the PFM Superintendant and his current benefits are reported to be at around $41,100 and the proposal reports $36,700. This superintendant will be managing and supervising all maintenance, repair, and construction throughout the city while overseeing 40 full-time employees and 30 part-time/full-time employees doing the work.
The current Recreation Superintendant would remain but looks to be getting about a $2,000 raise. All three Recreation Supervisors will also remain at about $273,000 with benefits, while their benefits did go down from $110,200 to $68,700. The positions were 100% General Fund and now are proposed at 80%. The Recreation Superintendant and 3 Supervisors oversee a Senior Secretary and 2 Office Assistants along with many part-time employees who work recreation programs.
Is the proposal just playing with numbers and not making sense?
Despite numbers and percentages not adding up along with the equity and duty pay not being balanced, why are only these 2 managers being cut? Municipal Services includes many areas and has other managers and supervisors. Even the 3 Recreation Supervisors were not touched while they are not over as much as the only PFM Supervisor which was cut. The PFM Supervisor isn’t even funded from the General Fund while the 3 Recreation Supervisors are 100% General Fund.
The other odd part of the proposal is that the 2 managers getting let go have to apply for the new director position. Since City Manager Tim Kerr came to the City of Turlock, there have been around 5 department heads appointed by Kerr without recruitment. Why isn’t one of the managers just promoted saving thousands of dollars in recruitment costs and especially when one of the managers should be qualified to keep doing what he/she is doing already?
Why not make “real cuts?”
Why not just make real cuts and move Recreation with Parks, Streets, Assessments, Buildings, and Grounds under the current manager and director? This would save $116,000 with benefits and cut management. Why can’t 2 of the Recreation Supervisors be cut, leaving one like other areas, and hire 2 regular workers saving about $40,000? Why couldn’t the retired Senior Maintenance Worker’s position go unfilled and save about $71,000 with benefits?
Should the city not have to make cuts within the city organization just because the citizens can pay higher fees to cover costs?
The City of Turlock has employees and areas of the organization that are paid from different funds such as water collections, sewer, housing, etc. Some of these areas are funded by Enterprise Funds that include rate fees such as the fees paid for permits, water, sewer, etc. Fees are adjusted to pay for services and supposedly only the cost of services as the City of Turlock is not in the business to “make” money. Generally if these areas need funding, the city just raises rates to pay for the cost of services. Shouldn’t these areas be looked at and have the managers/supervisors be in pay balance with the others according to equity and duty?
Is this just the beginning?
This may be just the beginning of job loss because of the approved budget with the approximate $1.3 million deficit, possible review of the entire organization, and tough economic times. Hopefully our leaders realize that it takes a full spectrum of services, not just Police and Fire, that make a community with a high quality of life.