Budget cuts and lost jobs – the two may go hand-in-hand if Evansville City Councilman John Friend’s proposal to lay off nearly 50 employees moves forward.
It’s an extension of an ongoing rift between Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and Council over money.
Monday night, council made it clear there are still issues, voting down the budget proposal 5-4.
Winnecke says it’s “disappointing” the budget was voted down. He says a memo was sent to council Wednesday to outline the potential next steps. What those steps entail isn’t being discussed.
Finance chair Conor O’Daniel voted against it. He says there is a problem, and “we can’t afford what we’ve got right now.”
It could take a “last resort” move to cut the budget down by millions of dollars, says Friend.
The current proposal from the Mayor’s office is around $85 million. Nearly identical to the 2015 budget.
Friend says the Mayor came up with $1.5 million in cuts already, but feels another $4.5 million needs to be trimmed.
With 80 percent of the general fund wrapped up in payroll, cutting jobs is what Friend says it may come to.
Layoffs of up to 48 employees is on the table – enough to save $3 million. Friend wouldn’t elaborate where those layoffs would come from, other than to say it shouldn’t cut into police or fire.
“It’s never the easiest way,” he says, “That’s the toughest part of any job.”
When it comes to money, City Council President, Dr. H. Dan Adams says more cuts aren’t needed.
“We are not at a wall here,” he said at Monday’s meeting, “The city’s not going to go bankrupt tomorrow. There are issues and there are methods which we can curb the things we’re talking about.”
But Friend believes job loss is only a matter of time. “Sooner or later it’s going to happen,” he says, “We’re moving in that direction.”
Winnecke says he will not support a budget which eliminates jobs.
If the budget isn’t passed by November 2, the city will revert to the 2015 budget. That would eliminate a 1 percent pay raise to city employees that council approved Monday.