Huntington’s Budget Proposal Covers Some Lay Offs Through Outside Contractors

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
File Photo
File Photo

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) - The proposed City of Huntington budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 includes laying off eight employees. Among those discussed at the Saturday budget hearing were the safety coordinator, a mechanic, body shop repairman, a police civilian maintenance employee, and a barricade inspector/erector.

Council Finance Director Steve Williams pondered that both in the past and present, decisions have been “short term right and long term foolish,” by eliminating some positions. He added that “proper planning” is necessary to balance cost effectiveness with efficiency of provided services.

The public works division has been hardest hit by layoffs in the past. Williams said this has impacted business friendliness, in particular, under a prior administration. He stated that “the hardest place to get a sign change [for a bank across the nation] was in Huntington.”

That’s an example of one o the challenges for decision makers considering the proposed budget.

At the hearing, no one seemed to have an issue with utilizing resources from two universities for covering the gap left by laying off the safety coordinator. However, they expressed initial issues with having outside contractors handle maintenance work at the Police Department.

 

Councilman Scott Caserta inquired about “security breaches” by not having just one person cleaning sensitive locations. Similarly, Steve Williams indicated the need to “fully vet” janitorial service workers at the Jean Dean Public Safety Building.

Ms. Jacobs-Jones indicated that neither Police Chief Skip Holbrook or Captain Hank Dial had complained.

Under the proposal, Goodwill Industries would provide services for City Hall and the Jean Dean Building, according to Ms. Jacobs-Jones. She added that contract would be for only the hours which services are performed.

“Goodwill does an awesome job,” said council member Teresa Loudermilk. “I’m concerned with laying off a union member.”

Public works loses a body shop repairman and a mechanic.

Ms. Jacobs-Jones indicated that a mechanic recently resigned, so his position would not be filled. As for body shop repairs, finance director Deron Runyon told council members that those duties are “mostly insurance work” now. When asked about “deductables,” Runyon explained, “I think it went down.”

Councilwoman Frances Jackson expressed concerns about the 24/7 nature of the barricade inspector recently laid off. Ms. Jacobs-Jones responded that his responsibilities will be “spread out” among other employees.

The budget hearings continue Saturday morning March 5.

 

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