The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


March 19, 2014

Hiring freeze proposal gets a chilly response

CLINTON —Clinton officials are well aware that more than 70 percent of the city’s general fund goes toward personnel wages and benefits. This is what made shaving down 2015 budget proposals difficult to navigate without cutting hours or eliminating positions.

And it’s partly why, on Tuesday, councilman Tom Determann wanted to start discussions about a possible hiring freeze.

“I just thought we needed to get the conversation started because of the budget we just went through,” Determann said during the city’s monthly Internal Operations Committee meeting. Joining the discussion were council members Grant Wilke and Lynn McGraw along with several department heads. “We’ve seen what labor has cost in the city budget. I just think we need to get some kind of hiring freeze put in place.

“It’s a lot easier through attrition and it affects a lot less people. I don’t think anyone’s pleased with our last budget.”

Determann said he spoke with several of his council colleagues who believed a freeze is a good route for the city. The idea wouldn’t prevent Clinton from filling vacancies or recruiting seasonal help, but increasing staff would stall for the foreseeable future.

Determann did not have a timeline for how long the freeze would take place.

“It’s so we don’t have to hire people we don’t need only to layoff in the future,” he said. “I think it’s just prudent management...

“With next year’s budget, there will be wage increases, pension increases, benefits. Where’s the money going to come from to pay them?”

Staff members immediately saw drawbacks. Police Chief Brian Guy and Fire Chief Mike Brown both explained the challenges and lengthy timetable involved for hiring safety personnel. Finance Director Anita Dalton said current, air-tight budget restraints already put the city in an unacknowledged hiring freeze.

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