Tacoma Public Works may cut nearly half of staff

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 31, 2012 at 5:43 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 31 at 6:00 PM

TACOMA - Millions in budget cuts could force Tacoma’s Public Works Department to lay off almost half of its employees, impacting city services.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,“ said Robert Johnson, a worker for 14  years.

If the cuts are approved, more than 80 people will lose their jobs. There’s a chance Johnson could be one of them.

“A  lot of them have mortgages and kids like I do. They’ll be severely impacted,” he said.

Richard Harris, a Tacoma resident, doesn’t understand why the department must cut more than $100 million.

“My taxes didn’t go down. I just paid it today,” said Harris.

The department faces layoffs and deep cutbacks in services across the board. Crews will maintain parks every other week instead of every week. Other services will be reduced to an “as needed” basis.

“Working smarter will not make up for that many layoffs but working smarter will be what reduces any negative impact on the public,” said Dick McKinley, Public Works Director.

During snow and ice, the number of snow plows will be reduced from 19 to 9.  According to Johnson, it won’t be enough.

“It probably takes 40 people working 12-hour shifts to plow the roads and if we cut that down to 9, who’s going to make up for the other 30 positions that are not there plowing the roads,” he said.

Workers say pink slips haven’t been handed out yet. The layoffs would be effective December 15th.

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