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City employees could see layoffs to balance Youngstown's budget

An analyst recommended the city cut $2.5 to $3.2 million over the next two years

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) - The City of Youngstown is looking at a projected $16 million deficit over the next five years and the problem will be solved mostly by cuts to its employees.

Before the summer's over, the unions will be asked to make big concessions and if they don't, there will be layoffs.

Michael Abourserhal is a CPA with government experience hired to analyze Youngstown's finances. He detailed his findings Monday evening during a presentation at the Covelli Centre.

Abourserhal said the best way to eliminate the deficit would be to cut $2.5 to $3.2 million over the next two years.

"The sooner that you focus on it, the less reductions, ultimately, you're going to have to make."

He had 18 ways to cut. Among them were furlough days, reducing pension pick up, eliminating already negotiated raises, increase from 10 to 20 percent the employees' share of health care, merging the health department with the county and layoffs -- specifically 20 in the fire department and 30 in the Clerk of Courts.

"We're firefighters," Chief Barry Finley said. "We're resilient. We'll do whatever the mayor tells us to do, but it will be difficult."

Mayor Tito Brown said he knew there were financial problems -- some he knew about and some he didn't.

"I didn't realize we're at 59 percent in our fringe benefits and we should be about 40 percent, so we're a little high in some areas. So we need work on how do we...get them right where they need to be?"

With the cuts being suggested, Councilwoman Lauren McNally said the city should look into having fewer employees happy with their jobs rather than employees making an unlivable wage.

"To go eight years with no raises, as suggested...that's sad. You can't do that."

It was suggested that union negotiations begin next month and a decision on layoffs be finalized by August 30.


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