CANTON Curb overtime spending for police officers and firefighters. Lower safety staffing levels through attrition. Ask unionized employees to give back pay raises or take furlough days.
Mayor Thomas M. Bernabei on Wednesday presented Canton City Council with his office’s suggestions for slashing $5.1 million from Canton’s main operating fund. To balance the city’s budget, about $3 million is expected to come from across-the-board personnel reductions. Of that, the police department will be responsible for $962,000, and the fire department will be responsible for $852,000, financial documents handed out during the meeting show.
“In the end, it cuts delivery of services to some extent,” Bernabei said.
The decrease in available dollars has been attributed in part to a drop in income tax revenue from the loss of jobs and to a drop in carried-over funds from previous years — because of increased spending on safety services.
A reduction of six firefighters and six police officers through attrition
A $275,000 decrease in police overtime — or 34 percent of what was spent last year, expense documents show
A $225,000 decrease in fire overtime — or 45 percent of what was spent last year, expense documents show
Savings from moving some building code expenses out of the general fund as part of a change in how registration fees are collected
Savings from not having to pay a consultant to write a comprehensive plan this year and from not needing to buy as much salt because of the mild winter
In creating the budget, personnel were sorted into groups: elected officials; management and non-bargaining employees; fire employees; police employees; and clerical and service employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. Each group was given an amount to cut based on its percentage of personnel costs to the general fund.
Bernabei said the unions will be asked for concessions, such as giving up a uniform allowance, but that the unions ultimately will decide how to make their budgets work. Department managers likely will take furloughs. Elected officials will be asked to remit some wages.
Through attrition and overtime cuts, the Fraternal Order of Police will meet its share of cuts. The Canton Police Patrolmen’s Association still will need to reduce its budget by $320,000. City administrators have asked the U.S. Department of Justice whether a grant the city received last year to add eight police officer positions may be used instead to prevent layoffs.
City officials already have eliminated the position of director of the dispatch center amid high overtime spending and voted to ax this year’s pay raises for elected officials and the city’s managers.