Friday, February 27, 2009

Layoffs? Layoffs?

So, it appears some layoffs in city government are in the cards. Not necessarily good news.

A couple of things:

I still think the union settlements last year were a good thing. Yes, I know, that was a lot of money. But at the end of the day, retroactive raises were off the table. Take the raises that were given out, and add a couple hundred grand. Happy now? Plain and simple, spending some money on raises saved at least as much on the retros. Long-term vision, people. That said, I still don't under stand the department head raises (sorry, department heads). That doesn't make as much long-term sense, unless you want to argue morale and keeping people on board. But...

I like Joe Solomito's work, and I'm not trying to pick on him here (although he did bring it up). But it might be time to stop thinking about back taxes as a way to fix some of this problem. Clearly, that money won't be easy to get. Why not target it for the rainy day fund, and then money that you budgeted for stabilization can be redirected when tax money comes in? First, it's one-time revenue, so you can't build a budget on it. Second, it's just not coming enough to be reliable. Go ahead, argue the city isn't pursuing hard enough, but what aren't they doing that they should be?

Here might be the most interesting thing about this long-term: What will the unions do? Will they make concessions to save members, or will the long-timers throw the young'uns overboard? You go to some other spots and see city employees argue for layoffs. Will there be a universal movement on that, or will different unions do it differently? Will there be furloughs?

Someone said four-day weeks should be instituted at City Hall. The Pride editorialized for that last year. It should be done.

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Two more things: I'm befuddled by the Mylott situation. I really like the guy personally, and I think his political skills would make him a good city councilor. And then I look at his track as mayor. It will be very interesting to see how his summer and fall goes. Veeerrrrry interesting.

Part of my "sticking around" plan includes a monthly column in the Fitchburg Pride. The first one is in the paper this week. Check it out, won't you? And yes, I'll ask the editor to keep my face off the cover from now on. I'd steal Shaq's twitter term of "sugly," but it's more "ugly" than "s."

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