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Borough to submit layoff plan to state

NORTH ARLINGTON –

The Borough Council has approved a workforce reduction plan that would see eight individuals temporarily laid off and a reduction in funding for library and Board of Health staff, according to a press release issued by the borough last week.
The plan will be submitted to the state for its review as part of the borough’s effort to trim about $500,000 from its 2011 budget, the release said.
At a meeting May 19, two council members, Richard Hughes and Joseph Bianchi, voted for the plan, and two others, Mark Yampaglia and Steve Tanelli, abstained. Councilmen Chris Johnson and Jon Kearney were absent.
According to Borough Attorney Randy Pearce, the fact that there were four council members present constituted a quorum and the two affirmative votes were enough to approve the plan.
Council President  Richard Hughes said the administration is trying to avoid layoffs and is hoping that negotiations with the police union and the union representing blue- and white-collar employees will result in concessions that will allow people to keep their jobs, the release stated.
“The last thing I want to do is to see people lose their jobs, however, since the borough was denied state aid, we have no choice but to cut spending to get our budget under the 2% state-imposed cap,” Hughes was quoted as saying.
The borough had applied for $400,000 in state transitional aid, but was denied its request, forcing the council to make deeper cuts in the municipal budget, the release said.
Among those who could get pink slips are six police officers,  one public works employee and one person from the administrative staff, said Hughes. In addition, the council is cutting $15,000 from the Board of Health salary account and $45,000 for library salaries.
The cost cutting is made a bit easier, said Hughes, by the retirement of a secretary for the Police Department and a court secretary who is taking unpaid leave.
“We looked at a number of scenarios for cutting the budget and we tried to make  the cuts equitable so no one department would take an undue share of the burden,” said Hughes.
According to the release, one of the options the borough is considering to avoid layoffs is to lower health benefit costs by switching employees to the less expensive state health care system. That option is being negotiated with union representatives.
“I want to stress that layoffs are our last resort, and hopefully they will amount to only temporary reduction in force of the Police Department,” said Hughes.
“Our objective has been to increase revenue through redevelopment, and as the economy improves, we hope to generate more revenue from sources other than homeowners,” he added.

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