By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
The city of Albion is once again facing a budget shortfall for the year ahead, but the situation is improved over the one the city was in a year ago.
In 2009, Mayor Joe Domingo proposed a fiscal plan that included laying off the city manager, finance director and public safety director. But this year, with the city coming up roughly $210,000 short on a $12 million budget for next year, Domingo and City Manager Mike Herman are confident a resolution can be attained without layoffs.
Herman said the city has been in discussion with the four unions representing its 49 union employees.
Herman said the projected 2011 budget includes an estimated Blue Cross Blue Shield increase of $101,000 to provide employees with the same insurance they have and the city and unions can agree to change the policy without opening up the rest of the contract.
The proposed budget also has $34,000 allocated for wage increases for union employees, something Herman would like to see renegotiated.
“My thought in being fair since we did give a wage freeze (to non-union city employees for 2010) is that the union should come back to where they would have been (in 2009),” Herman said.
Domingo said Herman’s idea is sound, but it’s wishful thinking because “the unions will take too long” to meet the state deadline for budget proposals and their contracts are up as of Dec. 31.
He said the city is going to have to “tighten its belt,” but he’s pleased to see the constructive conversations that are already taking place.
“This time you noticed they’re not going to cut people like they were going to,” Domingo said. “And when you put the people in charge on the line and it’s their job, all of a sudden they have a tendency to work a little harder to find that money, and that’s exactly what happened.”