OV lays off 2 in building safety - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

OV lays off 2 in building safety

Stagnant residential market blamed for staff reduction

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Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 12:00 am

The town of Oro Valley has laid off two building safety employees.

One employee had been with the town for nine years, the other for three.

"Their service to the town has been invaluable," said Oro Valley spokeswoman Mary Davis.

Both worked in residential inspection, a division of the department that has seen little activity over the past two years. Their combined annual salaries total $134,400. Both were given two weeks severance pay, Davis said.

Town finance officials estimate single-family residential inspection fees will bring in about $1.1 million by the close of the fiscal year at the end of June. That compared to the $2.4 million inspection fees earned in fiscal 2008.

With budget issues pressing, the town of Oro Valley last year offered employees the option to accept a voluntary layoff plan, which included severance. All told, 20 employees accepted the buyout. The policy helped to trim more than $850,000 in salary expenses from the current budget.

Governments across the state have been laying off employees over the past two years as the national economy continues to struggle.

"We usually hear about it in the private sector," said Ken Strobeck of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns.

While the league has not kept a running tally of the number of municipal layoffs, Strobeck said layoffs have become commonplace. He added that many cities have seen general fund revenues drop by as much as 30 percent over the past few years.

With a more than $245 million deficit, the city of Phoenix has proposed the layoff of as many as 1,000 employees, including hundreds of police officers.

The city of Tucson has enacted furloughs to help with its own $32 million deficit. The city also has looked to reduce its workforce by as many as 377 positions through a combination of layoffs, attrition and keeping positions unfilled.

Pima County has laid off 63 workers since 2007. Many of those worked in development services.

In addition, county estimates from last year show a likely drop in primary and secondary property tax revenue by as much as $37.5 million over the next five years.

For the current budget year, the town of Marana reduced its workforce by 20 workers through voluntary severance and attrition. The town enacted $7 million in general fund cuts for fiscal 2010-'11 as well.

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