Aspen slashes city staff to pare budget |

Aspen slashes city staff to pare budget

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Six staff positions in Aspen city government were cut Thursday and other employees will be working reduced hours in response to the slumping economy, the city announced Friday.

The personnel reductions, along with two positions that were previously eliminated, will save the city an estimated $698,375 annually, said the city in a press release.

Five positions in the city’s Community Development Department were eliminated Thursday, including one seasonal worker, while another was cut in the Engineering Department. Another engineering position is being shifted to other departments. In addition, some employees will be working reduced hours.

The reductions come on the heels of cuts earlier this year, the city noted, including a vacated zoning officer’s position that won’t be filled and a senior project manager position that was eliminated from the Engineering Department.

Both the Engineering and Community Development Departments are integrally involved in handling building and development applications ” activity that has dropped off with the national recession.

“We came to these difficult staffing decisions through a thorough review of current workloads and activity, as well as an analysis of the permit activity we are expecting in the next six to 12 months,” said Community Development Director Chris Bendon in the press release. “It personally tears me apart to have to make these decisions. We have a team of highly dedicated, professional people, but we need to be realistic about our economic conditions, building activity and staffing levels.”

Affected employees have been offered severance packages based on years of service, according to the press release. For every year of work for the city, employees are eligible for a week of severance pay, up to a maximum of eight weeks.

“It saddens me to lose some truly outstanding employees, but these were the necessary adjustments we needed to make to react accordingly to this economy,” added City Manager Steve Barwick in the press release. “We were very careful and deliberative with these decisions because it is important for the city to have functioning departments in the years to come with the least impacts to customer service possible.”

In early February, the city shaved roughly $1.4 million from its 2009 general fund budget through cuts, a selective hiring freeze and a freeze in the pay of all city employees. The city is now preparing budget scenarios that reflect additional reductions of both 5 and 10 percent. The next budget update to the City Council is scheduled March 24 at 5 p.m., when revised revenue forecasts will be presented.

See Saturday’s Aspen Times for more on the latest round of city budget cuts.

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