When Joplin city council members meet tonight, they'll vote on final approval of next year's budget. It includes the proposal to eliminate some city positions.
Joplin resident Holly Stone studies political science, and explains that a government for the people and by the people sometimes needs to be more attractive towards the people.
"It would be worth it that the government can support the people that they pay," says Stone.
Stone says full-time Joplin city employees should be paid the same as workers in similarly-sized cities. To be competitive, city council members have drafted a three-percent pay increase to the more than 500 full-time workers the city employs.
"I wouldn't consider it a trade-off for the layoffs," says Councilman Gary Shaw.
"I think it was something that we needed to do to start the ball rolling in the right direction," says Shaw.
Joplin City Manager Sam Anselm also says the layoffs would've happened no matter what, in order to help produce a balanced budget next fiscal year.
The city won't fill an assistant city manager position, and three other positions that are also vacant right now. Eight city workers will be laid-off; positions include a neighborhood improvement officer, and also the city's arborist.
Joplin's city manager estimates the eliminated positions will save the city $640,000, through salaries and benefits.
Councilman Shaw hopes sales tax revenue increases, which would help relieve this budget crunch. But Shaw says a bigger, more unpredictable problem is health insurance for city workers.
"I think we're going to have to probably make some sharper adjustments down the road in order for us to get where we want to go," says Shaw.
Shaw says he and other council members will continue to prioritize city jobs. Residents like Stone say it should come down to a straightforward work ethic.
"The city government should offer good paying jobs instead of multiple low paying jobs," says Stone.
...The type of work ethic that may help the most during difficult financial times.
Joplin's city manager says workers being laid-off can apply for a vacant position. They can also "bump" an existing employee with at least one year of service less than the person in the position being eliminated. Workers can also accept the layoff and be placed on a "recall" list.
Councilman Shaw says he does not see any more layoffs in the near future.
The complete list of positions being eliminated, pending city council approval:
-Assistant to the city manager (vacant)
-Accounting specialist in finance (vacant)
-Systems operator, IT department
-Senior clerk, public works
-Neighborhood services coordinator
-Two clerk positions at Joplin Police Department
-Laborer in cemeteries (vacant)
-Neighborhood services supervisor
-Neighborhood improvement officer
-Assistant director in parks and recreation (vacant)
-Arborist in parks department
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