Calera cuts 13 jobs

The Calera City Council voted to lay off 13 city employees in an effort to salvage the city budget at a special meeting Monday night.

In addition, the council voted unanimously to suspend employee step raises for one year beginning Feb. 1.

Before the vote, Mayor George Roy said the job cuts were “one of the worst things I’ve seen happen in a long time.”

“I hate it, but that’s the way it is,” said Roy, adding the layoffs are indicative of the struggling economy.

The layoffs will save the city approximately $400,000 over the next 12 months, said Finance Director Michael Hinson. The 13 full-time employees will be paid through Jan. 20 and will receive pay for any vacation and comp time they accrued, Hinson said.

City Clerk Linda Steele said the layoffs will affect eight city departments. One administrative job will be cut, and the gas and inspection departments will lose one employee each.

The streets, building maintenance, parks, water and sewer departments will lose two employees each.

The police and fire departments escaped layoffs. The fire department was to lose one full-time employee, but Fire Chief Tommy Moon told the council he would cut part-time positions to save the full-time salary.

“I allowed two people per shift to be off and filled those positions with part-time employees,” Moon said. Now Moon will allow one person to be off per shift.

City leaders feared layoffs were on the horizon with the approval of the $18.1 million fiscal year 2009 budget, which is down from about $18.5 million for fiscal year 2008. Roy said the city’s sales tax revenue is the lowest it’s been since 2005.

The city currently employs around 165 full-time and part-time workers. Roy said the layoffs are unfortunately unavoidable, and are necessary to meet payroll.

“We all regret this very much,” Roy said. “It’s a decision no one here wanted to make.”