About fifty staff from the city's Bureau of Development Services packed the council chamber this morning to beg council to use general fund dollars to save their jobs. BDS commissioner Randy Leonard announced plans to lay off 150 staff from the bureau in June, but was absent from the chamber this morning because of a previously planned private appointment that could not be changed, according to his staffers.
BDS staffers Marty Stockton (left, below) and Charlotte Phillips took three minutes each to ask city council to use general fund dollars to save some of their jobs. BDS looks after permitting fees, but council waived some of the permitting costs in a deal with Merritt Paulson to renovate PGE park for Major League soccer last month, and other construction in the city has tailed off significantly because of the recession. Another tranche of layoffs is expected to be announced at the end of this week or early next week, to make 150 layoffs so far, with a further 35 layoffs also expected some time over the next three months.
"This city council does not make these decisions lightly," said Mayor Adams, in response. "The chances are we will be cutting budgets again next year."
The mayor said he understood that families are impacted by the cuts and encouraged Stockton and Phillips to "continue to advocate" for their jobs. But there were no promises made.
Both staffers declined comment after their testimony, but another BDS staffer, who would prefer not to be named fearing they will end up on the next list of layoffs, was not charitable about the problems.
"A lot of this could have been avoided if they had been more proactive last year," said the staffer. "I was not surprised to see Commissioner Leonard absent because he has been largely absent from managing and overseeing BDS from the beginning. I was surprised to see the BDS director there, however, because he has avoided managing this issue from the start."
The BDS staffer said several staff-initiated solutions to the layoffs have been rebuffed by management.
"There's just no plan for how to deal with this, and the quality of service to the public is going to suffer," they said.