Town aldermen vote to cut two employees, nix health insurance

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

CENTREVILLE &045; With several departments over budget for the first four months of the fiscal year and the town facing a monthly deficit of $17,000, Centreville aldermen voted to lay off two employees and cut health insurance benefits for all part-time workers.

The action came during a special meeting of the board on Wednesday.

&uot;The town has been operating $17,000 in the hole each month for long time, and I’m not going to be a part of it anymore.

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We need to cut and save money, or the auditor says we will be broke within a year,&uot; said Alderman Carl D’Aquila.

The board initially focused on overtime and staffing concerns among police officers and dispatchers.

But Alderman Thomas Lobrano, who supervises the police department, said despite losing two policemen, spending for officers was only $150 over the budget.

Lobrano said the budget did not account for a spike in holiday and sick pay &045; or the retirement of a dispatcher&045;which caused spending for dispatchers to exceed the budget by $3,900. &uot;That’s a little out of line, and we need to make some adjustments there,&uot; Lobrano said.

But the budget does not accurately reflect the money the town saves by operating its own jail, Lobrano said.

&uot;We saved $4,180 by housing our own prisoners and made a profit of almost $5,000 by housing the Woodville prisoners,&uot; said Lobrano.

The board briefly discussed the possibility of shutting down the town’s police department for 40 hours each week and relying on sheriff’s departments from Amite and Wilkinson Counties for law enforcement.

Centreville is located on the Wilkinson-Amite county line.

But the board abandoned that idea after hearing from Wilkinson County Sheriff Reginald Jackson and Amite County Sheriff Tim Perkins, who both said the added response time and confusion over jurisdictional boundaries could jeopardize public safety.

Police Chief Jimmy Ray Reese suggested that hiring a part-time police officer and a part-time dispatcher could eliminate all police department overtime.

The board authorized Reese to hire those part-time workers.

After an executive session, the board announced that it had voted to lay off two employees from the street department and cease paying health insurance benefits for part-time employees.

Part-time employees were tentatively defined as those working less than 30 hours per week.

Board members also discussed the possibility of reducing garbage pickup to a weekly basis and using street employees to read meters each month, but took no action on those matters.