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City officials ax three employees

Drop in revenue blamed for cuts

POSTED: March 13, 2009 12:04 a.m.

Gainesville officials cut the jobs of three city employees Wednesday, a move they say is an effort to keep the city’s expenses in line with declining revenues.

In addition to the job cuts, the City Council will vote on a smaller version of the city’s current budget Tuesday.

The city eliminated the positions of three of its employees — a residential building inspector, a code enforcement officer and a planning department analyst — whose jobs were closely related to development in Gainesville, said City Manager Kip Padgett.

The layoffs have been looming since residential development came to a near standstill last year, and caused the formerly financially independent Inspection Services department to lean more heavily this year on the city’s already-strained general fund.
“We just had to make some decisions,” Padgett said.

Since the decline in residential development, the city’s building inspections department continually lost a significant amount of revenue from building permits and inspection fees beginning in 2008.

The department’s revenues once covered its expenses, but in January revenue from building inspections was 5 percent less of what it was in January 2007.

With residential development at a near standstill, building inspections Manager Larry Brown said he had to eliminate one of his department’s two inspectors.

“We don’t know if we’ll lose any more or not,” said Brown.

The city’s planning department also eliminated the job of a geographic information systems analyst, and the City Marshals office eliminated a deputy marshal.

The reduction in work force could cut between $130,000 and $200,000 from the city’s expenditures in the coming fiscal year, Chief Financial Officer Melody Marlowe said.

Other positions that currently are vacant may also be eliminated from the budget altogether as city officials prepare a spending plan for the next fiscal year, Padgett said.

“We won’t know more until we get further in the FY10 budget process, which, it’s ongoing right now,” he said.

Matt Hamby of the city’s Finance Department presented the revised budget — which did not include the three job eliminations — to council members at their work session Thursday.

The revised budget will include a 5 percent reduction in each department’s operating costs, Marlowe said.

The adjustment accounts for a loss of more than $330,000 in revenues — more than 98 percent of which can be attributed to a slump in sales tax revenue.



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