Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Athens City Council Cuts Two Jobs

Nicole DeChant

Athens City Council members voted to cut two city positions at their bi-weekly meeting Monday night. The ordinance will cut a supervisor from the Athens Street Department and a patrol officer from the Athens Police Department. City council member Jim Sands says, "The two positions are not currently staffed and are not anticipated to be staffed for the rest of the year." Sands explained that the supervisor's position at the Athens Street Department is vacant because the former supervisor was promoted to Assistant Service Safety Director.

Council member Jim Sands talks about how the supervisor's position will now include more responsibility.

New Responsibilities for Supervisor
Council member Nancy Bain wanted Athens City Council to approve the decision immediately. She said, "We need the leadership of a person who is going to be supervising 12 people. We need this change right now because the grant season and construction season are starting, it's a matter of public safety."

Athens Street Department Director Andrew Stone says he supports the council's decision to remove the position in order to prevent problems if a budget shortfall occurs. With one supervisor promoted, it means that the other supervisor will be in charge of more employees than before. Stone says the current supervisor is, "a tremendously capable employee and he is an excellent supervisor. And so he is capable of handling that larger sphere of responsibility."

Street Department Director Andrew Stone tells us why he supports the job cut in his department.

Possible Grant Money for Police Department
The decision comes from the recent budget deficit and the anticipation of a budget shortfall next year. However, Sands and Council member Sherry Coon noted that there may be an opportunity for some federal funding to hire one or two police officers. Coon proposed a grant that the city could apply for to receive this funding.

Council Members Sherry Coon and Jim Sands explain how the grant could create new jobs for the Athens Police Department.

Cuts Could Mean Fees
Street Department Director Stone says he's not worried about the recent budget cuts effecting his day to day repairs and regular services, such as plowing and filling pot holes. However, the only change he can possibly see for the future is a possible charge for yard waste pickup. He says this is because there are fewer citizens that use this service.

Athens Street Department Director describes how he could see a future charge for yard waste pickup.

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