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Copyright 2014 Sun Journal
Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)
SCOTT TAYLOR, Staff Writer

LEWISTON -- Recreation Director Maggie Chisholm was one of four city employees to lose their jobs Thursday because of budget cuts and efforts to keep property taxes from going up.

City Administrator Ed Barrett said he met with the four employees Thursday morning to discuss the layoffs.

"None of these are ever easy," Barrett said.

The employees will receive their salaries through June 11 and will continue to qualify for health insurance under the city employees' plan through August.

City councilors Tuesday approved a budget that keeps next year's municipal share of the tax rate level with the current year. Voters approved a school budget last week that increases the tax rate for schools by 15 cents per $1,000 -- about $13 on a $150,000 home.

But a flat budget came at a cost for city staff. In addition to budget tightening, delaying some projects and waiting to replace some equipment, the council's fiscal year 2014-15 budget cut $225,000 in employee salaries.

Barrett said Tuesday he needed time to decide how those cuts would fall and which employees would lose their jobs.

Chisholm would have marked her 28th year with the city in June.

Barrett said the city will revamp the Recreation Department. It's been a department in its own right, but will now become a division of the city's Public Works Department.

Barrett could not say how the changes would affect recreation programs.

"It's one of the things we're going to be looking at over the next few weeks," he said. "We'll be trying to integrate the recreation division with public works and building maintenance, to see how it all works. I know there will be some issues to take up and some shifts of responsibilities to make sure we can continue to offer the programs we do."

City maintenance staff will be rearranged, as well. A senior parking attendant, a parking attendant-supervisor at the city's parking garages and a Recreation Department maintenance supervisor will lose their jobs, too.

Deputy City Administrator Phil Nadeau said the employees in those positions have bumping rights through their union contracts with the city. That means they can take lower-paying jobs with the city, bumping out employees with less seniority.

"It can take a couple of weeks for those positions to work themselves out," Nadeau said.

Instead of having maintenance staff assigned to the city's garages, the Lewiston Memorial Armory and City Hall, those functions will be consolidated in one location, with staff there responsible for all city buildings.

"We'll have to see how everything works once we have the new structure in place," Barrett said.


May 23, 2014




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