Monday, December 14, 2009

Layoffs announced at City Hall

Five City of Prince Rupert employees were issued with layoff notices last week, as the ramifications of the city's financial situation came up for discussion at City Hall.

Monday's Daily News outlines the scope of the layoffs which will see the five permanent positions issued notice of layoff for January, as well two seasonal positions will be affected. In addition to those cuts, two current vacancies at the fire hall and three in public works will not be filled as the city tries comes to come to terms with its financial picture.

In the Daily News article, Mayor Jack Mussallem is quoted as outlining how the city is "very short on operational funding and do not anticipate any growth on the tax roll - industrial or residential. We are uncertain about the future and anticipate that 2010 will be a low-growth year".

As well, the Mayor cautioned about expectations of instant relief when it comes to any potential sale of the Watson Island site, which the Mayor says will make little difference in the short term, as Mussallem explained to the Daily News, "There is the 9 million debenture debt we're paying off from the last time the City took over the mill. Money from a possible sale would go toward that debt. The debt is a great concern."

With layoffs affecting the city workforce, local C.U.P.E 105 President Russel Wiens expressed the union's dissatisfaction with the City's decision on the layoffs, the first that the City has had to implement in a number of years, indicating that the bulk of the layoff notices went to positions at public works.

The union drew attention to what it considers to be the rather top heavy nature of management with the City, a point that many residents have found of interest as well over the last few years.

Left unsaid in all of this is the rather interestingly timed situation of the recent posting for a fairly high paying position at the Recreation Department at the same time that jobs are being cut in other departments of the City.
As we outlined on the blog last week, the position for Recreation Centre Manager has been advertised both here and afar, featuring a salary somewhere between 45,000 and 60,000 dollars plus benefits. The union may find that to be an interesting development in staff management, especially considering the recent announcement from last week at City Hall.

That is perhaps a subject that might come up for discussion tonight at the regular City Council meeting, the last session for the city until the New Year, as City council begins its Christmas break period, with no new sessions scheduled until the New Year.

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