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Walsenburg layoffs begin

by Brian Orr

WALSENBURG- And now the bloodletting begins. 

    One employee from the Utilities Department.  One from Outside Water, one from Parks, one from the Police Department.

    This is just the beginning of layoffs for the City of Walsenburg, with more to occur, probably up until the New Year.  The layoffs and restructuring began last Wednesday ahead of blaring headlines from the newspapers.  In addition to the layoffs, other City employees are being tempted with early retirement packages.

    Coming up with a $500,000 deficit for 2009 and a substantial shortfall in 2010 staring at them, and armed with the City Council’s approval, City officials began cutting jobs and consolidating departments across the board.

    The City’s Parks department and the Streets and Alleys department will be combined into one department, as will the City Water, Inside and Outside Water departments. 

    Department heads will be alleviated, and replaced by crew leaders. City Administer Alan Hein will take over managing Public Works and the Parks and Streets crew.  Some of his duties will be taken over by Assistant City Administrator Beth Neece. Other management positions will be restructured. Hein commented the restructuring was taking longer than he would like.

    “It’s hard to tell how much will be saved until six months to a year from now,” said Hein.  “There will be substantial savings in the future.  Originally we projected $300,000 but it will probably be quite a bit more than that.”