Moorhead shifts 8 employees
The restructuring of Moorhead city government continued Monday as eight employees were moved into new, temporary positions. To keep their jobs, they must be rehired in a competitive process next week, possibly competing with four employees who lo...
The restructuring of Moorhead city government continued Monday as eight employees were moved into new, temporary positions.
To keep their jobs, they must be rehired in a competitive process next week, possibly competing with four employees who lost their jobs Friday.
The changes are part of the city's plan to save $1.45 million this year, after receiving a $1.2 million cut in state aid this legislative session.
About $650,000 in savings will come from changes made at the beginning of the year, when the city didn't fill eight vacancies and cut two of its departments.
The city also is counting on $40,000 of new revenue from an unexpectedly high amount of building permits sold, to fill the gap, said City Manager Bruce Messelt.
Of the remainder, $316,000 will come from shifts in the city budget and reserves, $100,000 from travel, training and supply budgets, and $345,000 from program and personnel cuts, Messelt said.
Those personnel cuts include the job swaps announced Monday, which will save the city $150,000, he said.
They also incorporate the four staff cuts announced Friday. Another employee from the city's technical support department will be laid off next week when the department's five employees apply for four remaining jobs, Messelt said.
The combined salaries of the employees who were cut total $225,000, said Human Resources Director Jean Thompson.
All laid-off employees are eligible for state unemployment benefits and a two-week severance package, Thompson said.
Cuts to specific programs have not been finalized. Each department has a target it must meet, but where the cuts fall will be up to individual department directors, Messelt said.
The Police Department has to find $65,000; Fire Department $11,050; Operations Department $47,000; and Community Services Department $30,000, he said.
Monday's personnel changes were meant to make city workers more flexible to cover whatever work needs to be done, Messelt said.
For example, the former streets supervisor is now a manager for both sanitation and streets.
And three workers were moved to the engineering department, where they will inspect construction in the summer, a job the city sometimes hires out, and work on other projects in the off-season, Messelt said.
So far, the cuts seem to have been done as fairly as possible, said Deb Malm, president of Moorhead's American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees union.
But Malm is worried about employees' future position.
"It's good news that nobody else got cut today, but the flip side of it is -- you don't know when it could happen," Malm said. "In 2004 and 2005, with things the way they are, it doesn't look good."
Next year, Moorhead will lose an additional $300,000 in state aid, but the city shouldn't be facing extra cuts, Messelt said.
More money will be saved in 2004 by having reductions for the entire year, instead of only half the year, he said.
By 2005, however, projections show the city could be facing red ink again, Messelt said.
Overall, employees and council members involved in the decisions have been very supportive, Messelt said.
"I really feel in a couple years we're going to look back and say we did it right," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Joy Anderson at (701) 241-5556