Cash-flow problems force Hydaburg layoffs

The City Council will meet Monday to find ways to improve economy

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2003

HYDABURG - This Prince of Wales Island city has laid off its entire staff of four because of a shortage of money.

Mayor Steven Dilts Sr. said he met with the clerk, janitor, foreman and water plant operator last week, told them they were being laid off and asked them to volunteer their time.

So far, only the water plant operator has agreed, he said.

"Sometimes, when the finances run out, we've got to work for God and pray," said Dilts, who has suspended his own pay.

About 370 people live in this fishing-and-timber town in Southeast, about 45 air miles northwest of Ketchikan.

The City Council will meet Monday to review the situation and try to find ways to improve the city's economy.

Hydaburg is about $150,000 in debt, in part because it had to hire someone to fix its septic system last summer, repair 27 fire hydrants and do some road work, Dilts said.

The city also is trimming its electricity use and long-distance phone service, he said.

"We're doing everything we can to cut back and everything we can to rebuild infrastructure," he told the Ketchikan Daily News.

The city collects fees for sewer, water and garbage service, but some senior citizens haven't been able to pay their bills because of cuts to the state's Longevity Bonus Program, Dilts said.

The state will be able to release about $100,000 to Hydaburg once it gets the city's fiscal year 2002 audit, said Bill Rolfzen, a local government specialist with the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

That money can be used for general government operations, he said.

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