Monday, August 4, 2008

Gary workers face 20 percent pay cut

Gary workers face 20 percent pay cut

August 2, 2008

By Jon Seidel Post-Tribune staff writer

GARY -- Tough times are about to hit employee paychecks at City Hall, where the administration announced a plan to "impose" a 20 percent pay reduction, according to a memo sent to the unions this week.
Celita Green, the city's finance director, warns in the memo of a $12.9 million cash shortfall this year caused by a state-mandated budget freeze and shortfalls in tax collections.

"That means we will not be able to provide services at the current level," Green wrote, "or make payroll through year-end without taking immediately drastic action."

Mayor Rudy Clay couldn't be reached for comment Friday afternoon when some of the unions were scheduled to discuss the notice.

Green wrote in her memo that the city has already reduced its budget by $4.7 million. A 20-percent salary reduction, she wrote, would save another $2.9 million.

"Even with these reductions," Green wrote, "the city will still be cash short by $5 million."

Del Stout, president of Gary's Fraternal Order of Police, said his members have already decided against concessions.

Ted Bilski, business agent and trustee for Teamsters Local 142, said city officials offered his members a choice between a 32-hour work week or layoffs.

However, Bilski said the administration wouldn't rule out layoffs even with the reduced hours.

"That's a very tough decision," Bilski said. "That's why the members will vote on it."

When the Teamsters met with city officials last month, Bilski said he asked for a comprehensive plan from the administration. That plan, he said, has not been delivered.

Green wrote in her memo that the city is making constant changes to its plans, "which would make whatever I give you now obsolete with the next change."

Lorenzo Crowell Jr., an internal organizer for the Service Employees International Union, said he didn't want to speak in detail before meeting with his members next week, but he said he'd been contacted by the administration.

"It wasn't very palatable," Crowell said.

According to Green's memo, department heads will continue to work 40-hour weeks, but they will be paid for just 32 hours. Insurance benefits, Green wrote, will remain in full effect.

The 20-percent cut, Green wrote, will be seen on the Sept. 12 paychecks.

In addition to meeting the cuts for 2008, new property tax laws could force the city to cut its budget by another third in 2009 and by half in 2010.

Contact Jon Seidel at 881-3148 or at Comment on this story at

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