City council to discuss administrative cuts to prevent layoffs - WRBL

City council to discuss administrative cuts to prevent layoffs

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson wants city council members to start making cuts, as she's concerned the city's reserve fund is dangerously low.

50 jobs could be in jeopardy if city council fails to agree on where to make cuts in the administration, but the mayor has some suggestions for them. She says, "Where we can save money is through administratively adjusting our pension payments, our overtime payments, our workers compensation administration, and also our healthcare costs."

Mayor Tomlinson says the biggest cut councilors could make is to employee health insurance. Premiums haven't gone up for city employees since 2009, leaving Columbus residents to pick up the tab.

"They deserve it," she says. "I think the taxpayers have felt that it was worthwhile to pick up 75% of the cost, but with these increased costs and the lack of reserve, I think it's time to talk about them sharing it."

The only other option is for the city to absorb the $2 million in increases. From there, departments would have to cut individually to services or personnel. The Employees' Benefits Committee came up with the idea for the new health insurance plan, but councilors like Pops Barnes say they will not vote to increase insurance costs.

On the mayor's other suggestions however, councilors are willing to make changes. Some say it's time to end paying pension benefits on overtime, and stop the much-debated gap time, when salaried employees get paid hourly for scheduled shifts.

These measures will help keep the city from dropping below 60 reserve days, which could be needed in case of emergency. The mayor says, "It can be any number of things that cause you to dip into your 60-day reserve, but it should, of course, be reserved for times of great emergency, and not because you've had difficulty making tough decisions."

Council will meet to discuss the possible changes at Tuesday's work session at 9 a.m.

If council decides to approve all four of the mayor's proposals, it would save the city $5 million.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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