The city is looking to eliminate nine employment positions through a retirement buyout it will offer next week.
Non-uniformed workers 59 or older with 20 years of service and firefighters with 20 years can collect $15,000 if they retire, City Manager Joe Weakland said. There are about eight nonuniformed workers and nine firefighters eligible for the deal, Weakland guessed.
Personnel costs are 83 percent of the budget, so keeping the city's budget demons at bay is almost necessarily "personnel-related," Weakland said.
"It's the only thing left to reduce," he said.
The city isn't offering a deal to police officers, because the department already has several vacant posts, Weakland said.
The city is looking to reduce the non-uniformed roster by six and the firefighters' roster by three, Weakland said.
The reduction in the Fire Department would increase the amount of overtime, but would still save money, Weakland said, based on conversations with the chief and deputy chief.
The reduction wouldn't affect the "minimum manning" requirement of 13 firefighters on duty at all times, he said.
Most of the nonuniform posts to be eliminated are in Public Works, Weakland said.
By law, the city would need to accept any qualifying worker who wants to take the deal, he said.
"We can't pick and choose," he said.
If more workers retire than posts to be eliminated through attrition, the city still would still save money, presumably, because it would replace senior workers with entry-level ones.
The city prefers buyouts to layoffs not only because it doesn't want to inflict layoffs on workers, but because layoffs are more costly, because of the city being self-insured for unemployment compensation, Weakland said.
Unemployment self-insurance requires the city to pay about 53 percent of a laid-off worker's previous personnel costs for up to a year, he said.
Management will meet employees to explain the protocol, which the city must abide by strictly to avoid the appearance of age discrimination, Weakland said.
"Any way to improve our budgeting," Mayor Bill Schirf said. "Everything's on the table."
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.