It appears likely that City Hall will have to lay off at least some municipal workers in order to balance its proposed $170 million budget for the coming fiscal year.
Though some city employees have agreed to concessions that can close some of the financial gap in the spending plan slated for approval Thursday, it’s probably not enough to make up the $342,000 hole in the draft budget.
Mayor Art Ward said he still hopes that each of the city's unions would agree that saving jobs is their priority "but that's not my decision to make."
Ward said he has no choice other than "to fill that monetary void" in the budget with savings from concessions or layoffs.
"Everybody has to share the pain, unfortunately," the mayor said.
The union representing the workers inside City Hall, Local 233 of Council 4 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers, has voted to give back its approved 3 percent annual raise in the new fiscal year that begins July 1.
But the union for the city's so-called "outside" workers, Local 1338, refused to make concessions, its members opting to keep their 1.8 percent pay hikes even if it costs fellow workers their jobs.
The police union also declined to accept a cut. Firefighters are in arbitration on their contract so the concession issue never even came up.
The Bristol Professionals and Supervisors Association is expected to accept a wage freeze for the coming year.
It appears, then, that any layoffs would cut into police ranks a bit and into the rolls mostly of public works.
On Wednesday, at a closed-door City Council session, the details of whatever has gone on in the negotiations will be discussed with the six city councilors. Perhaps some decisions will be made after the executive session.
The picture will be clear on Thursday when the Board of Finance and City Council hold a joint meeting, in public, to approve a final $170 million spending plan that freezes property taxes and balances expected revenue with spending.
After that, officials will start trying to figure out how to cope with next year, when the situation looks more dire.
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