Port Townsend forced to eliminate 10 city positions

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — The city has eliminated 10 positions, a move that will affect services, City Manager David Timmons said.

The cuts, which affect personnel in six departments, are in response to budget conditions, Timmons said in a memo distributed to department heads Friday.

“The staff adjustments will necessarily affect the ability of the city to provide services and mean that other employees will need to assume greater responsibilities to provide needed services,” Timmons said in the memo.

“It is with deep regret that I am making these changes and I am only doing so because they are necessary.”

A recently discovered $200,000 shortfall of income tax revenue was a factor, Timmons said, but not the only one.

“The loss of the $200,000 is not the only reason for budget adjustments,” his memo said.

“The city continues to face financial constraints, revenue increases are less than consumer price index increases [and] real estate excise taxes continue to lag.”

Another budget stress is the mandatory construction of a new water system.

The Public Works and Engineering department was hardest hit, with three positions eliminated. The Water Department loses one position, the Parks and Recreation Division was trimmed by two, and the public pool at 1919 Blaine St., loses one position.

The Development Services Division loses one position,while another worker is reduced to part-time status.

The city prosecutor job has been eliminated and will change to a contract for service position.

“DSD will get by with less and applicants may be delayed in obtaining services,” Timmons said in his memo.

Timmons said the city now only has one major project, the development of a new water system instead of “lots of little ones” and this prompted the public works layoffs.

“Parks will not be maintained as they are now and the pool will need to reduce hours of operation,” the memo said.

“Police, clerk and attorney will handle records requests without support from the prosecutor,” the memo continued.

“Police will be short in administrative and supervisory positions but patrol and public safety will not be affected.”

After the layoffs the city will have 82 employees.

The last layoff was in 2011, when three parks and planning positions were eliminated.

Some of the employees will be given one month’s notice while some others could take several months to accommodate transition.

Some of the layoffs could be withdrawn if the budget allows, Timmons said.

All of the affected employees have been notified of the action, he added.

Timmons is recommending that the sergeant’s position vacancy created by Ed Green’s possible move to the Oak Harbor police chief position not be filled to “realize savings there.”

“I decided to take steps now rather than wait,” Timmons said.

“It would be worse if I had to do this in the holiday season.”

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 06. 2012 5:32PM
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