City cuts staffing to cut 2017 budget

A total of 31 positions were effected in efforts to cut $1 million in spending from the 2017 budget for the City of Grand Junction.

The changes, most of which are scheduled to take effect Dec. 16, included a mix of voluntary and involuntary reductions as well as leaving vacant positions unfilled.

“This has been a challenging process for staff and certainly the individual employees involved in the reduction. I am confident we have done what is necessary within the labor budget to correct the structural deficit and move forward into the new year,” said Greg Caton, Grand Junction city manager.

The labor reductions were required to cut $1 million from the 2017 budget for labor expenses to accommodate what are projected as revenue shortfalls.

Six employees were approved to participate in voluntary reductions that included incentives for separation or early retirement as well as temporary unpaid leave or a reduction in hours. Fifteen employees were effected by involuntary reductions that ranged from layoffs to position reclassifications. Ten positions left vacant through attrition weren’t filled.

A total of 24 positions were eliminated, while four positions were reclassified or reassigned to a division funded through fees rather than tax revenues. Three positions were effected by reduced hours or leave of absence.

Nine of the changes occurred in city administration, with seven in parks and recreation, six in public works, five in community development and planning, two in convention and visitor services and one each in the fire and police departments.

The City of Grand Junction expects to cut overall spending in 2017, but increase funding for infrastructure, public safety and economic development. Caton presented a proposed budget that includes $142 million in total spending — a decrease of $5.4 million, or 3.7 percent, from the adopted budget for 2016.

The proposed budget for 2017 includes a 25 percent increase for street maintenance to $3.5 million. An additional $23.9 million in capital projects are planned, including street, sewer and water treatment improvements.

The proposed budget funds the equivalent of 641 full-time positions, including two new police positions, three new communications center dispatchers and three new emergency medical technicians. Funding for economic development was increased in the proposed budget to $2.76 million.