London: Layoffs, cuts approved
By Jane Beathard
Members of London City Council approved a 2013 budget on Thursday that cuts most departments by 15 percent.
A last-ditch amendment sponsored by member Pat Closser reduced recreation director Ryan Ladd’s job to part-time and saved one full-time position in the police department. Layoffs are slated for four other full-time patrol officers.
It was standing room only in council chambers for the vote as about 25 members of the city’s police and fire forces – as well as Ladd – awaited their financial fates.
Closser’s amendment passed, despite opposition by council members Stan Kavy and Dick Minner. The vote reflected a division among members on how to address the city’s projected financial crunch. That divide was amplified as Kavy and Minner failed in efforts to stall overall budget approval until December.
“We are ram-roding this through,” Kavy said. “I am 100 percent against it.”
Closser insisted a prompt decision would provide adequate time for pink slips to go out.
“We need to decide tonight,” he said.
Closser noted the budget is open to amendments and employees can be re-hired next year if city finances improve.
Earlier in the evening, safety-services director Steve Hume told council London cannot attract new businesses and residents without adequate safety forces and recreational programs.
Betty Scott, a member of the city’s parks and recreation commission, said a shuttered municipal pool and loss of recreational opportunities weighs heaviest on children of poor families.
“They have few outlets for recreation,” Scott said.
She praised Ladd’s efforts, saying he works long hours.
Closser admitted recreation is important to quality of life in London.
“I don’t want to see quality of life go down in London and I don’t think it would,” he said.