Town Implements Hiring Freeze
Freeze implemented in response to declining revenue.
The town government has implemented a hiring freeze in response to declining revenue projections.
Councilman Mark Ciarrocca, the Town Council's finance policy committee chairman, made the announcement Tuesday night while he was updating the Council on the 2010 budget. He said the current revenue projections from property taxes, fees and state aid have been declining and a hiring freeze will help reduce costs for the town. The town is projecting a steep decline in revenue from construction permit fees as home construction continues to decrease, along with a decline in investment income.
"We have become for all practical purposes the personnel committee," Ciarrocca said. "Any post that is vacant now or becomes vacant will not be filled."
Ciarrocca identified several vacant positions that will not be filled, including his previous announcements in cuts in the custodial services department in the Municipal Building. The Department of Public Works staffer who will be handling daytime custodial work at town hall will not see his previous slot at the DPW filled. The vacant traffic enforcement officer post will not be filled as well.
Ciarrocca said the hiring freeze will impact all town departments, including the police and fire departments, which local governments traditionally avoid when making job cuts. He said the finance committee is willing to consider filling a position if a department head can prove a need due to health and safety issues. He said the committee has warned department heads that the committee will not make decisions to allow new employees lightly.
The finance committee will be revisiting the hiring freeze during the course of the year in hopes of being able to go back to filling vacant positions. Ciarrocca did not sound optimistic about a rise in revenues as the year proceeds.
Town Administrator Jim Gildea said a rise in retirements may be able to help in filling other positions as the year progresses. Last year, seven police retirements in the second half of the year spared layoffs in the town workforce. Gildea said the town is currently projecting two police retirements.
This would not be the first position in town government eliminated through attrition. Last year, the Town Council abolished the payroll manager's post after the incumbent retired and then distributed the duties amongst employees in the treasury department.
Ciarrocca said the employee cuts, be it through layoffs or attrition, will likely result in service cuts. He did not identify specific service cuts that will occur, noting that department heads are still working with the finance committee to determine where cuts will be made in the budget.
"We are facing a very challenging financial climate," Ciarrocca.