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The Times
  • Haughton: Layoffs temporary, money saving measure

  • The layoff of the town of Manheim’s Highway Department is a temporary measure and could come to an end as soon as next month, according to officials. “In order to meet the two percent cap and still be able to provide the taxpayers with the services they have become accustomed to, the council decided t...
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  • The layoff of the town of Manheim’s Highway Department is a temporary measure and could come to an end as soon as next month, according to officials.
    “In order to meet the two percent cap and still be able to provide the taxpayers with the services they have become accustomed to, the council decided to try the layoff,” town Supervisor John Haughton said during Tuesday evening’s council meeting. “The employees will be called back as soon as the highway superintendent feels he needs to have them called back.”
    Seeing an opportunity to save money for the town and its residents after a mild winter and with a majority of the spring and summer road maintenance complete, Haughton said the town council voted in July to layoff their three full-time Highway Department employees.
    “The layoffs were not an easy decision, but with the two percent tax cap in place this is an issue many municipalities are going to have to contend with,” he said, adding the town council would adhere to the state law that limits the annual growth of property taxes levied by local governments and school districts to two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. “The town council is not going to override the cap, and I would never ask them to override the cap. It’s not going to happen.”
    The layoffs have resulted in an average monthly savings of $9,775.44 in salary, retirement contributions and Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes for the town, said Haughton.
    “This does not include the money the town has been able to save on fuel,” said Councilman Larry Austin. “When that is factored in, the savings to the town are even greater.”
    While out of work, the town has continued to pay for the employees’ benefits, said Haughton.
    Philip Sedlock, labor relations representative for the United Public Service Employees Union, which represents the Highway Department employees, did not return a request for comment, however, he did tell television news outlets the union feels the employees have plenty of work for the summer.
    “The town has plenty of financial decisions it needs to make, I’m not going to say we can overrule them, but I certainly know the fellas have plenty of work to do for the summer,” he said.
    Haughton said the savings could be used to help boost the town’s road maintenance budget next year, and could also be set aside for equipment and vehicle purchases in the years to come.
    Highway Superintendent Carl Stallman said in recent years he has had to work with a $27,000 budget specifically for road repairs. With 14 miles of town roads to manage and costs of asphalt and other supplies going up, he said it is difficult to maintain those roads with the available money.
    Page 2 of 2 - “One mile of road for oil and stoning costs $15,000,” said Stallman. “We got a road we had to pull the shoulders up on and I would like to do rehab on it, but there’s not enough money in the budget.”
    Responding to residents who questioned the town’s April purchase of a 2012 Ford one-ton pickup for $29,059, as well as a V plow for $5,685, Haughton said Tuesday evening the cost of the truck was not paid for out of the highway department budget, but rather from a separate equipment fund.
    Stallman added the pickup was purchased with the hope of establishing a two year trade-in schedule, as other towns have found the practice to result in a big savings. “If the savings are not there, then the town will keep the truck and put it to use for the next 12 years,” he said.
    Contributing: GateHouse News Service
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