Calera could face more layoffs, cutbacks

Calera residents and employees filled the City Hall chamber on Monday to protest a proposal to reduce hours for city employees.

The Calera City Council is considering a 32-hour work week for all hourly city employees. The council is also considering laying off five city employees and cutting all employee salaries by 5 percent. The council took no official action.

Shane Stoudenmire of the Calera Firefighters Association, who attended Monday’s council meeting, said if the council were to approve the proposals, the Calera Fire Department would have to employ three firefighters at each station instead of four.

“We don’t want to reduce our staff,” Stoudenmire said. “Going from a four-man engine company to a three-man engine company would jeopardize our safety as well as citizens’ safety.”

Stoudenmire added the proposals would reduce the level of Emergency Medical Services care, and Calera residents would not receive the fire and emergency response they are accustomed to.

“For example, if we respond to a critical patient, there is a strong probability that our staffing will not allow us to accompany our critical patients to the needed facilities, thus jeopardizing the continuum and standard of care,” Stoudenmire said.

The proposals come on the heels of the city’s announcement to switch to a four-day work week in an effort to save money. As of May 27, all city offices, except for the police and fire departments, are closed on Fridays.

As of May 25, the Calera Public Library, which was open six days a week, is now closed Sundays and Mondays.

The council voted to lay off 13 employees in an effort to salvage the city’s $18.1 million fiscal year 2009 budget in January. The layoffs are expected to save the city $400,000 this year. The council also voted to suspend employee step raises for one year.

Efforts to reach Mayor George Roy on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Roy and the council will hold a work session and special meeting Wednesday at 5 p.m. to review, discuss and adopt amendments to the city budget.