DETROIT (WWJ) – Following up on his promise to take quick fiscal action, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has announced layoffs in the city.
Bing has announced that 1,000 city positions will be eliminated by February 25, 2012. Departments will identify the number of layoffs beginning the week of December 5 and layoff notices will be issued starting the week of January 21.
In a news release out Friday, Bing said the layoffs will be strategic — that they will try to limit the impact on resident, protecting core services like police and fire. The mayor has said that the city faces a $45 million shortfall by June of next year without immediate action, and these layoffs will save $14 million.
Not everyone who gets the notice will be out of work, but Detroit City Councilman Kwame Kenyatta said Bing did the right thing by giving workers a heads up.
“He’s doing it early enough so that people don’t go out and spend a lot during the holidays,” Kenyatta said.
Mayor Bing has also ordered an immediate hiring freeze for all Civil Service positions, except the Water & Sewerage Department. WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke with John Riehl, president of AFSCME Local 207, representing most employees in the water department and some in the lighting department.
“That kind of a layoff would really harm the services to the community. I can’t imagine how some of these city departments are gonna function when the people who do the actual work are gonna be heading for the door,” said Riehl.
Bing has also outlined other concessions to prevent an emergency financial manager for the city. They include: elimination of furlough days and a 10-percent wage cut for city employees, a 10-percent hike in employee contributions to their health care coverage , and pension reforms.
Riehl thinks there are more favorable alternatives to save city cash.
“Oh, we think they could save a lot of money with other methods,” said Riehl. “They could redo their prescription plan with a less priced carrier. They could what’s called pre-taxing the health insurance benefits which saves the city millions every year.”
Bing detailed his plan earlier this week in an evening address to residents. (Read and listen, here).