An "interim bridge budget" that reflects the layoff of 13 town staff members was passed by Atherton's City Council on June 15, but the question of whether the pink-slipped employees will actually lose their jobs has yet to be resolved.
The council unanimously signed off on the interim operating budget of $10.53 million, but not before hearing from a number of union representatives, town employees and residents about the plan to outsource the building department and the public works department, which performs streets and park work.
Rudy Gonzalez, a representative from Teamsters Local 856, warned the council that even if private contractors initially agree to low rates for their services, "eventually those costs go up," and the town will be stuck without in-house services for which it can control costs.
Building inspector Joseph Aiello, who was handed a pink slip late last month, cited figures indicating that the building department "is busy and getting busier." Noting that the department is designed to operate on a self-supporting enterprise fund, covering costs from fees charged for plan checking and inspections, he said "there's no legitimate reason to lay off staff."
The town last week delayed the planned layoff, originally to be effective June 30, to July 15 while talks with the union continue. Employees had offered about 12 percent in concessions, which represented about $167,000, but last week increased proposed concessions to amount to about $300,000 according to union representative Peter Finn.
Interim City Manager John Danielson had estimated the planned outsourcing of the services to save the town about $276,000, Mr. Finn said. Mr. Danielson could not be reached for comment.
A call for bids from private firms interested in providing the services has been issued, but proposals aren't due until June 24, and until they are reviewed, it is unknown how much such outside services would cost the town. The town is set to meet again with union representatives on June 27, according to Mr. Gonzalez.
After the question of how town services will be delivered next fiscal year is resolved, Mr. Danielson will come back to the council with a revised budget. The council asked that the final budget be brought back in 90 days or less.