Thursday, July 16, 2009

City Manager's Memo Paints Bleak Picture

Eliminations hit many City departments; effect all

In a memo to Mayor Jim O'Neal and the Springfield City Council, City Manager Greg Burris indicated there are currently 101 vacant positions within City government. In addition, Burris noted another 46 temporary, seasonal and contract positions have been eliminated. All of the 147 positions have been either eliminated or are frozen.

Burris said there is a potential for further reductions in City services.

He warned the Council, they may begin receiving complaints about service delays or, about services that simply are no longer offered.

"No one should claim to be surprised by these service reductions -- especially the print media outlet and others who accused the City of "threats" when this information was shared publicly in January," Burris wrote.

The City Manager also warned the City Council that their own information requests, while they would continue to be addressed, could have the impact of further slowing existing City service functions. He encouraged the Council to carefully consider citizen-generated information requests before, "simply forwarding that request to us."

While it isn't directly stated, it might be hinted that, in the future, the public may be requested to more routinely fill out a formal Sunshine Law requests, rather than rely on informal email correspondence in seeking answers from the City government.

"I am providing updated guidance to departments on the process on how they should respond to requests for information to the Custodian of Records -- the City Clerk's Office," Burris wrote. "Our goal is to be consistent and fair in our application of these new guidelines."

Following are programs and services which have been eliminated from various departments:

Planning Department

> The Neighborhood Assessment Program
> The annual Neighborhood Trash Clean-up Program
> The Urban Neighborhood Alliance's low-interest home improvement loan program for low- and moderate-income citizens
> Support for Center City revitalization program through the Urban Neighborhood Alliance
> Support for the Urban Districts Alliance and the Downtown Springfield Community Improvement District
> Caring Communities neighborhood revitalization program through Community Partnership of the Ozarks
> Hardcopy "Front Porch" neighborhood newsletter
> Services to registered homeowner's associations
> Hardcopy Monthly Service Request reports to neighborhood presidents
> Support for downtown Wi-Fi
> Contract for downtown on-street parking enforcement

Police Department

> The Dare program
> Grant Beach sub-station staffing
> Commercial Street sub-station staffing
> Annual Police Citizen's Survey
> Car seat checks and other Traffic Safety Alliance programs

Fire Department

> Fireworks patrols
> Staffing at the Ozark Empire Fair
> Free smoke alarm program

Public Works

> All annual flower plantings

Health Department

> Phelps Grove and Rountree neighborhood rental registration program
> Multi-family housing inspections
> A number of employee health and wellness programs

Parks Department

> Firefall event
> Outdoor concert series

Human Resources Department

> All police and firefighter testing programs
> A variety of employee training sessions and workshops
> Supervisor training programs
> Employee exit interviews
> The Employee Referral program
> Participation in the Partners in Education school program
> Employee service recognition

The above listed items do not include a listing of the services which were reduced. The lists above only include programs or services which have been eliminated.

In addition to the above eliminations, the employees of the City of Springfield are not scheduled to receive cost of living or merit pay increases.

Other employee eliminated benefits include: no "thank you" picnic; no computer purchase incentives; no employee wellness program; no health risk assessments or wellness incentives and; no employee sick leave incentive.

Other topics of the memo will be addressed in a separate entry.

Source: Memo from City Manager Greg Burris to the Mayor and City Council dated July 15, 2009

Related: For information about how to fill out a formal Sunshine Law Request, complete with a "fill-in-the-blank" form, go to this page of the Missouri Attorney General's Web site.



Anonymous said...

....fill out a formal Sunshine Law requests, rather than rely on informal email correspondence in seeking answers from the City government. WHoa....

Seem like Mr. Burris could delegate some authority when require rather than go the Sunshine route. Each City employee could simply answer questions if they know what the truth is. It can take 5 seconds to answer a question and 30 minutes not to answer one.

Seems like the Parks Dept cut Firefall, which was all paid for by donatations anyways, so that was not really a cut.

Anonymous said...

I always get a kick out of how much money we spend on golf courses and tennis courts and horse riding arenas.
All this stuff is nice but when you got to make cuts, seems to me it makes more sense to close a golf course (or maybe even sell it) than to not give employees a raise.

Of course, there is that damned park tax. What are we paying now? 3/8% or 1/4% per dollar?

why is the parks department a sacred cow?

Jackie Melton said...

Whoa, anon!

"While it isn't directly stated, it might be hinted that, in the future, the public may be requested to more routinely..."

You missed an important part of the paragraph there, buddy. Try to keep things in context, okay?

Firefall was paid for, in part, through contributions from the general fund. It was not held this year, though many donations were given or offered, because there were NOT ENOUGH donations to present it.

Golf courses are self sufficient. They are not paid for, from what I understand out of the general fund OR the parks tax.

Voters DID approve the parks taxes. Those who don't want to pay park's taxes are going to have to get out the vote if they want to effect change, or petition to repeal past parks' taxes.

And, did you know that Golf Digest Magazine, in its August issue named Rivercut Golf Course as the “Best Muny” (municipal course) in the state of Missouri?

Anonymous said...

Could Mr. Finnie and Mr. Cumley volunteer in the lobby of the Busch Building a few days a week to help answer public questions ??

They would already know most of the answers or know where to look...

Busplunge said...

Hey Anon 4:05----made me laugh!

Anonymous said...

Seems like Mr. Burris could answer questions that involve over a million dollars first and then move down the list.

How many communications directors do we have in the City, 3 or 4 ???

Would like to see a booth in the Busch building "like Peanuts" where you could get help for 5 cents.