Steamboat lays off 7 city employees |

Steamboat lays off 7 city employees

Cuts primarily to administrative positions effective today amid tight 2011 budget

Mike Lawrence

Jon Roberts

Steamboat Springs — The axe finally fell Monday morning in City Hall and Centennial Hall. — The axe finally fell Monday morning in City Hall and Centennial Hall.

— The axe finally fell Monday morning in City Hall and Centennial Hall.

Steamboat Springs City Manager Jon Roberts said seven full-time city employees were laid off Monday, the latest outcome in a two-year work force reduction that has included hiring freezes, furloughs and pay reductions for city staff.

A forewarning of Monday's layoffs came last week when the Steamboat Springs City Council gave initial support to a proposed 2011 budget that includes personnel cuts of more than $700,000. Those budgetary line items now are realities.

Roberts said he, Human Resources Manager John Thrasher and the appropriate department directors met individually with each affected employee Monday morning.

"It's a very unfortunate result of the continued decline in the economy," Roberts said. "It's very painful."

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The layoffs include an assistant in the Planning and Com­­munity Development Depart­ment; three positions in the Public Works Department; an inspection administrator for Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue; and a position in the Finance Department.

The city's losses also include one position right outside Roberts's office door: Lauren Mooney, who has worked in City Hall as the assistant to the city manager since the late '90s.

"I've had a good 14-plus years with the city, and I enjoyed working with everyone and I'll miss them," Mooney said Monday. "They were my work family."

Mooney said she worked for six city managers, including those who served in an interim capacity, during her tenure. Former City Manager Van James hired her.

Roberts said a total of 14 personnel positions were eliminated Monday from the 2011 budget. He said the seven positions that did not require layoffs include three already vacant positions in the planning department; one vacant patrol position in the Steamboat Springs Police Department; two seasonal positions in the Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department; and one position that was re-assigned.

Roberts said Police Chief JD Hays recommended elimination of the vacant patrol position as a way to meet budget requirements. Last week, during City Council's daylong budget hearing in Centennial Hall, Capt. Joel Rae said the Police Department has seen a 10.5 percent reduction in calls for service year to date, compared to 2009.

Public Works Director Philo Shelton said his department lost a construction services foreman, a staff assistant and a staff engineer as a result of Monday's layoffs.

"Building permits, new construction projects, etc., are very slim to none right now," Shelton said. "These positions supported those projects."

Shelton said the construction services foreman had duties including storm water inspections and construction quality control.

He said the city now is down to three city engineers rather than four. The layoffs should not affect snowplowing this winter or other essential city services, he said.

"We had no other cuts in the Public Works Department, which is street, fleet, transit, airport, and no cuts in staffing as well in the utility division, which is water and wastewater," Shelton said.

Roberts said the seven layoffs were effective Monday and included a severance package equivalent to the employee's salary through the end of this year. Employees will remain on the city's health insurance until the end of this month, and the city also will provide each employee with medical insurance assistance, he said.

Roberts said employees also will have access to COBRA health insurance, a federal program that provides temporary coverage at group rates to some employees who have involuntarily lost their jobs.

The city had a staff equivalent of about 270 full-time employees before Monday's layoffs, which Roberts said he hopes will be the city's last.

"It's our intent that this is the last step we'll have to take," he said.

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail

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