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Budget shortfall may put 18 Dunedin staffers out of work

DUNEDIN — Dunedin's tax rate will stay the same next fiscal year and library and recreation center hours will not be cut. But to meet a $2.6-million budget shortfall, 18 full-time city staffers may lose their jobs.

At next month's budget workshops, City Manager Robert DiSpirito will present a draft proposal that includes eliminating about 18 jobs.

DiSpirito said the City Commission gave him a clear directive to prepare a balanced budget that doesn't dip into reserves and doesn't cut services, despite a budget that will shrink because of property tax reductions.

After meeting with employees whose jobs would be affected, DiSpirito shared the news with all city employees last week in a letter. The city has about 390 employees.

"My staff and I have been working from the outset of this year to try to avoid us being in this spot, but the numbers were just too large," he wrote. "It's a terrible position for all of us to be in."

The City Commission will vote on the budget in September.

The proposed personnel cuts affect almost every department in the general fund except for fire, DiSpirito said. He said some of the affected employees had planned to retire but he didn't know exactly how many. DiSpirito proposes outsourcing the facilities custodial operations, a move that would cut eight jobs and save the city about $400,000.

Other proposed cuts are a finance management analyst, a human resources risk manager, the division director for communications in the information services department, a planner in the planning and development department, two full-time and one part-time recreation positions, an employee in the streets division, a librarian, a contracted community policing officer and a contracted traffic control unit.

Dipping into reserves wouldn't solve the budget problem, DiSpirito said.

"No one knows what next year can hold so we feel we need to be careful about doing a one-year fix," he said. "We're trying to make as many of these cuts lasting."

The current general fund budget is $26-million. A significant part of that decrease comes from the proposed job cuts, said Sandy Sanders, director of finance.

Mayor Bob Hackworth said he anticipated the proposed cuts.

"(DiSpirito) is operating on the clear direction that … we weren't going to entertain cuts to service unless as a last resort," Hackworth said.

Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at (727)445-4181 or tel-khoury@sptimes.com.

Budget shortfall may put 18 Dunedin staffers out of work 06/27/08 [Last modified: Sunday, June 29, 2008 1:31pm]
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