Former city employee speaks out after layoffs

By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 1, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- It's been nearly two weeks since the City of Tallahassee announced layoffs to compensate for a more than $4 million budget gap. Some of those affected said the news is still shocking.

"All I know is the City of Tallahassee. When I graduated high school, I went to work there," said Phillip Bailey, who worked as a Construction Chief for Underground Utilities.

Bailey had spent nearly 34 years as a City employee and said he was 16 months from retirement.

"What am I going to do? And what else can I do," he said. "Let me go out with some dignity. Don't send me out like this."

Bailey is not alone.

38 employees were laid off and another 11 vacant positions were cut. Eight staff members had been working for the City for 30 or more years. Another eight had been City staffers for about twenty years. The layoffs crossed various departments and numerous positions including maintenance worker, underground utilities tech, program engineer, tech support, foreman and more.

In a letter to the Commission about two weeks ago, City Manager Rick Fernandez said the layoffs are part of a plan to, "continue improving efficiencies within our organization that result in long-term savings."

The City says the affected employees are being offered a severance package that includes the cash equivalent of their current salary and healthcare benefits through November 9. The City is also offering free career resources including job search and training opportunities, and notification of future job opportunities with the city

Still, the offer doesn't ease Bailey's mind.

"When you're 55 years old and you've worked in underground utilities,
I don't think there's that much out there for me," he said.

"You've got to go through the emotional thing first," said Trish Yahn, with Career Source Capital Region.

Yahn aknowledged that being laid off can leave an emotional void. She's had first hand experience after being laid off from a job she spent years at.

She said there are opportunities out there for those who face lay offs at any point in their career. But, if you've been in one job for decades it may require reevaluating what you want to do and exploring what jobs your current skills match.

"Take stock in yourself, that chances are this happened because of economic reasons. And, try not to blame yourself," she said.

Bailey said the change is still sinking in and he's not sure what he'll do next.

"How I'm going to pay my bills, and keep my family fed and alive," he said.


By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 28, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)—The City of Tallahassee has laid off nearly 40 workers in an effort to balance the 2017-2018 fiscal year budget.

38 staff members were laid off from various departments and with numerous positions including maintenance worker, underground utilities tech, program engineer, tech support, foreman and more.

Eight staff members had been working for the City for 30 or more years. Another eight had been City staffers for about twenty years.

Four staff members were making more than $100,000, with the highest salary topping out at $140,000. The lowest paid employee that was laid off made a salary of $28,330.

An additional 11 vacant positions were eliminated.

City leaders said it's always a tough call when it comes to layoffs, but that the money has to come from somewhere.

"We didn't want to cut services. We have citizens that are used to having certain things, whether that's the senior center or parks and rec, police, fire, you name it," said City Commissioner Gil Ziffer. "We didn't want to raise taxes, we can't do that. So it's painful and we're trying to do whatever we can to make it easier for them."

The City says the affected employees are being offered a severance package that includes the cash equivalent of their current salary and healthcare benefits through November 9. The City is also offering free career resources including job search and training opportunities, and notification of future job opportunities with the city.

In a letter to the city commission outlining the proposal, City Manager Rick Fernandez says the layoffs are part of a plan to operate at maximum efficiency and garner long-term savings.

It’s not the first time the City has made cuts to better “to ensure operations are functioning at maximum efficiency levels.” In 2016 five vacant positions were eliminated and another five staff members were laid off.

That brings the total number of eliminated positions and layoffs to 59 between 2016 and 2017.



 
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