Chandler to freeze hiring; layoffs possible - East Valley Tribune: News

Chandler to freeze hiring; layoffs possible

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Posted: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 11:08 pm | Updated: 9:53 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Chandler on Tuesday unveiled a list of tough economic measures that include an immediate hiring freeze and potential layoffs as city leaders look for ways to weather the deepening recession that's enveloped the country.

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Only positions deemed critical to running the day to day operations of city business will be filled, City Manager Mark Pentz stated in a citywide e-mail.

Other cost-saving measures such as freezing wages for temporary workers will be taken to shore up a growing budget deficit that's anticipated to climb as high as $19 million for the coming fiscal year.

"The newspaper headlines of late speak to the dire situation we all find ourselves in," Pentz stated in a message that paints a dark picture of the city's finances. "Times are tough."

In prior years, Chandler had avoided budget cuts, but like other cities and towns, it's been hit hard by the economic downturn and lagging sales tax revenue that is down 15.4 percent from last year.

Sales taxes are the primary source of cash for cities in Arizona and with consumers clutching their wallets this year municipalities are reeling.

"It's just an unbelievable ceasing of economic activity," Dunn said. "I've never seen anything like this."

Recently, Mesa announced layoffs and Tempe said layoffs are likely to be necessary as those cities face steep deficits.

Mesa alone is looking at a deficit in excess of $60 million.

In the memo that was sent late Tuesday afternoon, Pentz also makes clear that city leaders are eyeing other cost-cutting measures, including potential layoffs.

"Although we are currently holding 35 positions vacant and I am sure that this number will increase, it would be unwise for me to say or even hint that layoffs are not within the realm of possibilities," Pentz stated in his e-mail message.

Chandler also is looking at a potential freeze on pay raises for all employees, buyout options for some employees, departmental cuts and reduction to nonemergency overtime.

Those decisions could be put off until the beginning of the year as the city awaits results from holiday sales.

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