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Augusta Commission approves 34 job cuts

Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011 10:56 PM
Last updated Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011 4:27 AM
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The man who suggested that the Augusta Commission cut 34 jobs to help balance next year’s budget said Wednesday that he was surprised the group approved it so quickly.

After public individual interviews with each of four finalists for Sarasota County administrator, Fred Russell received only one vote from the five Sarasota County commissioners.  Thomas Bender/Sarasota Herald Tribune
Thomas Bender/Sarasota Herald Tribune
After public individual interviews with each of four finalists for Sarasota County administrator, Fred Russell received only one vote from the five Sarasota County commissioners.

City Administrator Fred Russell, returning from an interview for a similar position in Sarasota County, Fla., said he expected the commission to receive the 2012 budget plan as information Tuesday, recess the meeting and vote on it later.

Instead, after three commissioners walked out of Tuesday’s commission meeting, those remaining quickly voted 6-1 to approve the plan, which calls for sweeping percentage reductions across all departments, $300,000 savings from further reorganization and the elimination of 34 filled positions.

Commissioner Matt Aitken said he didn’t recall the job cuts being discussed at a Nov. 10 budget workshop he and six other commissioners attended. At the workshop, those present appeared to reach a consensus on making the cuts and a few additions from a menu of items presented by Russell. Commissioners Alvin Mason, Corey Johnson and J.R. Hatney were not present.

Thirty-four is a number Russell says he arrived at by dividing $1 million, a round amount he sought to trim from the general fund budget shortfall, by $30,000, a typical city employee salary.

The administrator, who missed the Tuesday meeting because of the job interview, said those who will lose their jobs have not been determined. Russell told commissioners at the Nov. 10 workshop that all departments, including those headed by elected officials, should be considered, except the sheriff’s office.

Positions subject to the reduction in force need to be decided within 30 days so the entire 2012 budget savings can be realized, Russell said Wednesday.

Some could come from the fire department, where a reorganization likely will target several battalion chiefs as a fourth city battalion is eliminated. The rest are unknown, but Russell has a meeting scheduled with department heads this morning to discuss ways to cut.

“He’s the administrator; that’s his job to task that,” Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said.

One city department head said the cuts would be tough.

“We’re streamlined to where there’s no fat; we’re cutting muscle now,” said Recreation, Parks and Facilities Director Tom Beck, whose reconfigured department recently took on dozens of personnel and lost others in Russell’s reorganization plan.

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Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 11/17/11 - 05:59 pm
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Fred's new haircut looks

Fred's new haircut looks nice. I'm glad he got it cut, prior to interviewing in Sarasota. We've heard so much about this position, hope AC will post a story and photo of the winner.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/17/11 - 06:00 pm
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Oh, Willow, worried about

Oh, Willow, worried about Fred's hair. Heh, heh, heh.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 11/17/11 - 06:29 pm
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Yep, River, I thought who in

Yep, River, I thought who in their right mind would hire him for that position with that bedraggled look.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 11/17/11 - 06:31 pm
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I also thought, who hires

I also thought, who hires someone that disses their employer as well.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 11/22/11 - 11:15 am
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From Susan McCord's story

From Susan McCord's story posted Wednesday night we learned:

Positions subject to the reduction in force need to be decided within 30 days so the entire 2012 budget savings can be realized, Russell said Wednesday. . . . Russell has a meeting scheduled with department heads this morning to discuss ways to cut. “He’s the administrator; that’s his job to task that,” Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said.

Okay, so the commissioners (at least Guilfoyle) believe that Fred (What, me worry?) Russell is hard at work to bring them a list of 34 employees to let go as a non-punitive "reduction in force" by mid-December. I wonder which committee gets to meddle with the proposed list first?

We have the entire city government on a three-day paid holiday leave Wed. - Fri. this week. Is any work going undone? Will we be able to tell any difference by this lack of work? I think not.

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