City Lays Off Nine 

Library scales back story times

The City of Boise laid off nine workers last week, adding to 26 early retirement buyouts over the last two months.

The layoffs and retirements will save the city some $2.17 million, part of $9 million in cuts anticipated in the next budget year.

Six workers at Planning and Development Services lost their jobs as well as employees in information technology, public works and the library.

While Mayor Dave Bieter said that the layoffs would have "virtually no negative impact on citizens," the Boise Public Library is scaling back children's story times at both the downtown and Collister branches, in part as a result of the early retirement program. Downtown is eliminating five story times at least through the summer, and Collister is replacing some story sessions with adult technology education, Library Community Relations Director Joanne Hinkel said.

The downtown children's section lost one employee to early retirement and will not be able to replace the position until later in the year because of the generous incentive package offered.

"We've worked really hard to give them as generous a severance as we can," Bieter said.

Laid-off city workers will get at least three months of pay, or a week of pay for each year of city service, full payment of health care premiums through 2009 and funds to help with career transition services.

The City Council, which will review Bieter's 2010-2011 budget in the coming months, supported the layoffs.

Bieter said that lower sales tax collections, lower revenue from building permits and a decline in interest payments are largely to blame for the $9 million shortfall.

"By going this far now, we hope to avoid a constant threat of layoffs," Bieter said.

City Hall has been working with the City Council on a strategic plan for Boise since January. City Council member Elaine Clegg said that the Council and mayor had discussed the need for a smaller payroll in strategic planning sessions and are largely in agreement.

"It's not because we're rubber stamping anything; it's because we've put in a lot of hours coming to a consensus," Clegg said.

BW was not able to reach any of the laid-off city workers for comment.

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