Proposed Layoffs Would Hit Parks, Comm. Services Depts.

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The job cuts listed in Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero's budget proposal would include net layoffs in the city's parks and community services departments, among others.

The city's budget director says the cuts are necessary. That's something the city's employee unions question.

UAW Local 2256 President Scott Dedic says he realizes the city needs to trim the budget -- and trimming personnel is an option.

"It's one way to make cuts," Dedic said.

What he questions is just how many job cuts are necessary.

The mayor's proposed budget would cut roughly 30 jobs in total -- spread through the city's various departments. Budget Director Jerry Ambrose says personnel cuts have to be a part of any cutbacks.

"80 percent of our costs are personnel-related," he said.

Specific cuts would include a net layoff of five workers in Human Relations and Community Services -- the city department that, among other things, coorindates aid to charities. There are cuts in the Management Services Department, and at the water treatment plant -- part of the Public Service Department.

Parks could also take a hit, with staff cuts for the golf courses the mayor has proposed closing, and employee cuts for the Potter Park Zoo.

Departments that are relatively unaffected in terms of net employee numbers are Finance, Fire, Personnel, Planning and Neighborhood Development and Police.

Local 2256 is actively lobbying the city council to reduce those layoffs.

"We're pulling up old documents and letting the council see that this isn't new ... the sky isn't falling," Dedic said.

Dedic says the city faced lower tax revenues and bigger expenses back in 1991. And they were able to recover.

The council appears at least receptive. A majority on the city council said late last year -- they didn't want to see any employee layoffs.

But Ambrose says the personnel cuts are necessary. And in the future, he says, they'll put the city into better fiscal shape.

"Hopefully with a focus on economic development, we can build -- we can help build our way out of it," Ambrose said.

If the city's proposed personnel cuts go through, he says, the mayor would like to be able to place all the employees in other city departments.

But with 30-some potential layoffs, Ambrose says that might be a challenge.

-- in Lansing, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.

Human Relations/Community Services 5
Management Services 7
Parks 8
Public Service 4

Finance 2
Fire 1
Personnel 1
Planning 1
Police 1