Police, fire layoffs planned

City department heads proposed eliminating 27 full-time jobs through layoffs and leaving vacant positions empty next year under $1.5 million in budget cuts submitted Friday to the City Council.

The spending reductions amount to 2.3 percent of the $66.1 million budget for 2015 submitted Oct. 1 by Mayor Lou Rosamilia.

The City Council requested 3 percent spending reductions in response to warnings from the State Comptroller’s Office that a $1.9 million pension payment increase would equal a 10 percent tax levy hike in 2016.

“As you move forward with this, I ask that you are mindful that these are not recommendations from me or my Department Heads. This is solely information to show the effects of a 3% cut in a Department or, in some cases, how much can be cut before the point of layoffs of City employees,” the mayor wrote in a memo.

Council President Rodney Wiltshire said the mayor’s office is attempting to deflect criticism for its poorly drafted budget.

“If we had gotten information throughout the year we requested from the mayor, it would have given us a better understanding of the dire position we’re in,” Wiltshire said.

In addition to the warning on the 2016 budget, the state advised the city that a state financial control board could return to Troy if it has a 1 percent budget deficit at the end of 2014.

Hardest hit in the proposed 2015 reductions are the fire and police departments. The fire department budget would be reduced by $450,000, while the police budget would shrink by $388,965.

The fire department would eliminate 10 positions — three vacancies and seven junior firefighters. The department has 15 new firefighters completing their training next week. Fire Chief Thomas Garrett said in a memo to the mayor that the savings would be offset by $400,000 in increased overtime costs due to minimum staff requirements.

The police department would eliminate eight positions: three police officers and five civilian support positions. Police Chief John Tedesco said in a memo that the savings amounted to a 2 percent cut. To reach a 3 percent cut equaling $538,770 would mean additional staffing cuts.

To hold down overtime, the police department would eliminate the community police unit and foot patrols, transfer two sergeants from the detective bureau to patrol and reduce the emergency response team by seven officers. These changes would be done to ensure the minimum staffing levels for patrol are met without using overtime.

Other staffing reductions are one employee each in planning, engineering and code enforcement and seven people in public works. Also to be cut are 11 part-time seasonal jobs.

“It’s imperative we maintain city services,” Councilwoman Lynn Kopka said.

Wiltshire said he would not support reductions in public safety.

The 3 percent reduction emerged from a calculation by Councilman Robert Doherty in determining what would generate $1.9 million in savings necessary to avoid the pension problem.

“It may be a very significant cut,” Doherty said about the information provided the council Friday.

Council members are to meet with the department heads to discuss their budget proposals in the upcoming week.

Any changes to the budget made by the council are subject to review and a potential veto by Rosamilia.

The budget vote has been rescheduled for Dec. 1. If the council fails to adopt the budget, Rosamilia’s original proposed budget would go into effect.

kcrowe@timesunion.com • 518-454-5084 • @KennethCrowe