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Budget shortfall results in layoffs

ARLINGTON — The first round of layoffs was recently approved by the City Council in response to a proposed $1.8 million budget shortfall.

At least eight city employees have accepted voluntary layoffs or early retirement packages through city departments. Most of the positions will not be replaced, said Kristin Banfield, city of Arlington spokesperson.

Eliminating the positions will save the city approximately $900,000 but leave a number of city departments shorthanded, Banfield said.

“It’s definitely a challenging time,” she said. “We’re very much a family and it’s really difficult to say goodbye.

Cemetery coordinator Barb Butner, Cmdr. Ed Erlandson of the Arlington Police Department, airport lead maintenance worker Jef Forsman and John Pederson, public works maintenance and operations manager, have all opted for early retirements through the city.

Butner has worked for 30 years with the city’s police, fire and cemetery departments in administrative support capacities.

Erlandson has worked in the city’s police department for more than 25 years.

Forsman has more than 30 years of experience working at the city and has also served as a volunteer firefighter.

Pederson, who has also been a volunteer firefighter, has been employed by the city of Arlington for more than 20 years.

Senior planner Kristi Sherman, city engineer Menglou Wang, public works senior maintenance worker Ron Wetzel and public works maintenance worker Dawna Nicely will be laid off.

The four employees have nearly 30 years of experience in the city combined.

“Eight people leaving the city is not a small number,” Banfield said. “We’re losing a lot of information and experience with that.”

While some employees have already left, many will stay on city payroll until the end of October.

Retiring and laid off employees will receive identical severance packages through the city. Bonfield said there was not a sliding scale based on experience.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve agreements with the eight employees during the Oct. 19 meeting. Councilman Dick Butner abstained from voting because his wife was one of the retiring employees.

City finance director Kathy Peterson revealed the $1.8 million shortfall to the City Council during the Oct. 13 work session.

“We’ve been working with the Council on the $1.8 million hole,” Banfield said. “We’re getting there and we still have a ways to go.”

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