How to balance the Dayton budget- and get union cooperation

While the rest of us may have to cut our cable bill, eat meat less often, drive less and otherwise tighten our belts through the latest economic crunch, the three main Dayton unions aren’t willing to budge on pre-negotiated automatic raises.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a Commission that knows how to advise a City Manager on how to negotiate. Before the wage freeze was even discussed, a meeting should have been called to see what the unions thought would help solve the city budget crisis. This is facing all of us- and not an adversarial issue.

The city doesn’t have a choice but to cut expenses- or raise revenue in some way.

Once suggestions have been discussed- the idea of a wage freeze can be brought up. Unfortunately, we’ve already passed this point- and the unions rejected it:

Dayton’s three biggest employee unions have rejected the city’s proposal for an across-the-board wage freeze for city employees…

He said the “long shot” request could have trimmed $2.7 million off the city’s projected $13 million budget deficit.

Representatives of the Dayton Fraternal Order of Police and Dayton Firefighters Local 136 notified the city’s labor relations manager, Brent McKenzie, of the decision on Friday evening.

McKenzie then informed Young, who already had received news earlier in the day that the Dayton Public Service Union had rejected the proposal, too.

FOP President Randy Beane could not be reached for comment Saturday.

A forecast overview on the budget is set for Wednesday, Dec. 3.

“We will move forward and we will deliver a budget that’s balanced,” Young said. “Unfortunately, we’ll have cuts we’d rather not make.”

Mayor Rhine McLin said Saturday she was disappointed the unions “aren’t recognizing the severity of the financial situation.

“It was an option we presented to them hoping they would follow the lead of the city manager and commission by accepting a wage freeze to help reduce the deficit so we could move forward,” she said. “Now we will have to go back to the table to determine how to address that gap.”

While 87 city employees agreed earlier to accept buyout deals to help reduce the number the layoffs, Young said there will still be a need for layoffs.

The four unions that represent 70 percent of the city’s 2,395 employees all have contracts that include 3 percent raises for 2009, so any wage freeze must be voluntary.

Dayton city unions reject wage freeze.

Since the unions haven’t offered any alternatives- here are some options to consider:

  • Shutting down the Dayton Police Academy- unless it can be turned into a money maker- this year. All future hires for the Dayton Police Department can take the standard Ohio Peace Officer training- or have completed training and transfer from another department.
  • Shutting down the Dayton Fire Department training academy. Same thing- firefighters can complete certification on their own, through places like Sinclair.
  • Begin the process to contract street maintenance from the County- and put waste collection out to bid from private waste collection firms.
  • Investigate turning all Dayton parks over to Five Rivers Metroparks and paying a flat rate per acre for maintenance and programming.
  • Eliminate all “economic development” positions from City government. Let regional organizations like CityWide or the Dayton Development Coalition do their thing, without duplication of services. Totally eliminate subsidies for the Downtown Dayton Partnership.
  • Cut all subsidies to arts organizations unless every city in the County contributes an equal amount per-capita. It’s time to stop subsidizing the arts for the citizens of Oakwood.

These are all steps toward regionalism and to eliminating departments that will be redundant once we make the inevitable move to a regional unigov.

The unions might not like it- but, they may not have a choice. The people in City Hall may not like it either- but they won’t have a choice either.

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