Just before the meeting commenced, discussion of the four layoffs brought an uncomfortable tension to the room. Today, council eliminated four cleaning service jobs.
Bonnie Powell choked back tears as she addressed the room. She is glad to be able to retire at least, though it’s a few years early in her plan.
“They tell us not to miss work,” she said. “We don’t miss work and we still lose our jobs.”
She and two others spoke of feelings on the cutback situation, pointing out that the jobs are some of the lowest paid in the city.
“This is a tough decision,” said council chaplain, Kathy Hummel, before the ordinance was adopted with a 5-4 vote.
At the end of the council meeting, Mayor Don Robart weighed in on the situation.
“Even though we’ll end the year in a healthy position, the budget looking forward is not that promising and is, in fact, looking pretty bleak,” he said. “These are tough decisions for us, too, but we can’t ignore them.”
Budget was city council’s main concern Monday night. Finance Director Joseph Brodzinski spoke on each item.
Buildings and grounds had a more than 5% increase in budget, while the street department had a small decrease.
The looks to hire two officers, with current detective, Dave Cooper, looking to retire spring 2012. This will bring the department to 71 or 72 on staff, said Police Chief Thomas Pozza.
“Our guys are still answering calls and catching bad guys,” Pozza said. “So by and large, I’m very proud of the department as my first year of chief of police.”
Portage Crossing Project
The Portage Crossing project moves along as Stark Enterprises gains tenants and makes progress with other retailers. Steve Rubin, chief operating officer, addressed council and a crowd of almost 50. He explained the plan to close deals by March 31, with hope to break ground shortly after.
A few residents attending the meeting tried to get answers out of Rubin as to what type of retailers would be moving in, but Rubin didn’t budge.
“Part of the issue is that in the business world, as we negotiate these things, retailers are reticent to disclose publicly,” Rubin said and explained it could harm a potential deal.
Cecilia Brady asked about small businesses and found five year leases will be an option for strong candidates.
“We like having and encourage small businesses,” Rubin said. “There are opportunities for smaller businesses in the project.”