City Manager Kim Kiefer proposed an additional $1.6 million in cuts to city services and jobs at Wednesday’s City and Borough of Juneau Assembly finance committee meeting.
The proposal is on top of $3.6 million in cuts proposed by the manager in early April, most of which have already been approved by the Assembly to help balance a $15 million city budget deficit over the next two years.
The new proposal includes reducing Treadwell Arena’s usage to eight months of the year, turning most full-time positions at the rink into 10-month positions. The four-month closure would start next year. The rink already shuts off its ice in the summer and opens the arena floor to camps; this move would shutter the building entirely. It would save $23,600 in staff costs in FY 2015 and $49,400 in 2016. It also would reduce electrical, trash and bank card fees for the rink by $3,000 over the next two years.
Summer programs at the rink would be eliminated if the proposal is approved by the Assembly.
A big portion of the $1.6 million in cuts are salaries; 17.5 full-time city jobs would be cut in addition to the approximately 19 job cuts already proposed.
The elimination of a recreation coordinator position from the Parks and Recreation Department would cancel the adult basketball program. About 380 people participate in the program, Kiefer said.
The elimination of short-term temporary workers in the Public Works Department — another cost-cutting proposal —“will slow down winter snow removal,” Kiefer’s proposal said.
Eliminating a code compliance officer from the Community Development Department would force planners and building inspectors to investigate code complaints themselves.
Eliminating the school resource officer would save the city $137,000 over two years but remove the one police officer dedicated to schools. The position could be saved if grant money was found, Kiefer’s proposal said.
And eliminating the deputy fire marshal position from Capital City Fire and Rescue would cause “public inspections that are not mandated by license requirements (to be) eliminated. Public classes would be eliminated, CBJ extinguisher classes (would be) eliminated,” Kiefer’s report stated. The cut would save the city $114,300 in FY 2015 and $120,300 in 2016.
Fire Marshal Dan Jager, who attended the meeting with other CCFR staff, said the city would be losing a major asset if it cuts the deputy position, which has existed for eight years.
“I was the first one to have that position,” Jager said after the meeting. “Its primary role is public education — anywhere from children to older adults.”
Although it would be ideal if he could take on deputy duties as the manager suggested, Jager said, it’s not possible. Much of the job would have to go.
“It would be nice to take that on, but there’s not enough time in the day,” he said.
In addition to running classes for kids and adults on fire safety, the deputy fire marshal investigates 45 to 55 fires per year. The position “deals with a lot more technicality” than other firefighters, Jager said, although the deputy is qualified to do those duties, too.
The deputy position fills in a lot where others can’t, Jager said. Losing the position would be a big hit to the department.
“Yeah, it’s a real big deal,” Jager said.
Finance committee chairwoman Karen Crane said the committee is going to have to make final decisions on budget cuts in the next two weeks.
Mayor Merrill Sanford reminded the group that all cuts will be difficult.
“Almost every single one of those cuts affect operations within our government and are going to have to be dealt with on the department level to make sure those jobs are still getting done,” he said. “We are going to have to make some tough decisions.”
City charter requires the assembly to adopt the FY 2015 budget by June 15. If the Assembly does not adopt the budget at the June 9 regular Assembly meeting, a special meeting is required.