originally published Aug. 14, 2011 at ElectMyAss.com
The City Council could be voting this month to fund a merged 911 communications center with Floyd County, and given the information at hand, I'm not convinced the plan as it exists is feasible, with what seems to be sketchy numbers and vague talk about other savings down the road. The city's communication union would also have to bust for the merger, but could vote to reform post-merger.
According to County Commissioner Steve Bush, there would be immediate savings of $300,000-$400,000 a year in operating expenses.
Okay, the city is looking at $736,000 for next year's 911 communications budget, if no merger occurs. This will likely wind up being over $800,000 if this year and last year are any indication. With the merger, the budget for the center would be $1.3 million, with Floyd County and New Albany splitting that budget, as well as renovation costs for the existing city 911 center.
Here's where things start getting cloudy. Floyd County said it would kick in $200,000 in additional 911 funds, which would lower the budget to $1.1 million.
So, wait a minute...is the city and county splitting the proposed $1.3 million, or the proposed $1.1 million, and just how is this split being done? I mean, if you wanna talk "split," then either way, this sounds good on paper. $650,000 or $550,000 a year is a great savings off the $800,000 grand the city's probably going to spend. So I imagine that, plus reduced payroll as employees are let go to shore up the staffing, comes to the immediate savings Commissioner Bush is talking about.
Nope. Bush also says there would be no immediate job losses, even though 25 employees would be affected by the merger, as they are 25 employees over what the merged center would need. Officials could decide to leave some positions unfilled as retirements occur in the future.
So how exactly is this supposed to work again? Floyd County is going to move their staff into our center, then split the costs somehow, even though nobody's going to lose a job that will become unnecessary as a result of the merger, but there is going to be immediate savings? How? To who?
I just can't seen how this pans out. While I can appreciate the sentiments of City Councilman Bob Caesar, who doesn't want anyone to lose their job, you can not be a proponent of a merger without having the stomach for inevitable job losses.
If the city communications union agrees to bust, put the new staff, twenty-five people lighter, into the renovated center, and if the union votes to reform, give them the same deal they had when they agreed to bust. There's your savings, immediate and certain. It may not be the most politically sound stance to take, but with the city facing a $3.9 million deficit this year, and almost certainly a deficit for next year, the talk about spending cuts has to become action.
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