Mayor says ‘it is not a pretty picture’ as City Hall looks to reduce staff costs – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Mayor says ‘it is not a pretty picture’ as City Hall looks to reduce staff costs

Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling says the cash-strapped City will have to cut its spending on staff in the coming year, conceding: “It is not a pretty picture right now.”

Deputy Mayor Glen Smith stressed that decisions on where the cuts will likely be made have yet to be made, adding: “Obviously, no one wants to get rid of staff.”

The comments followed a financial review in yesterday's City meeting, when councillor Dennis Tucker reported the new Government Budget would leave the Corporation with substantially less income than what it had planned upon.

While the Budget remains under debate, Mr Gosling said, the City's reduced wharfage creates “a dramatic shortfall”, with the City facing a shortage of “$800,000 in its cash flow beginning the first of April”.

“It does have very bad implications, where we have to step back from projects that we've committed to. We're looking at where we can do reductions in our budget, and looking at capital projects to cut out or postpone, and reductions in some of the events planned for over the course of the year.

“But when staffing expenses are 55 percent of our budget, unfortunately, our most likely means of cutting costs will have to be some kind of reduction of staffing costs. How we will is right now undecided.

“It is not a pretty picture right now. Unless we are able to find either a change with Government's commitment for the Corporation, or we can find other revenue streams, we will be short for the rest of the year.”

Mr Smith pointed out that the City may also have trouble getting taxes paid on time during the recession, with City treasurer Gary Edwards saying he expects to have tax figures tallied by next week.

Meanwhile, with concerns rising over crime, the City decided to devote a portion of the next Town Hall Meeting to the issue, with Alderman Pamela Ferreira pointing out a number of recent complaints, including “a rowdy group of youths” causing trouble in Par-la-Ville Park.

The next town meeting has been set for 6pm on March 29 at the First Testament Church of God.

The City also decided to recommend two development applications to Planning: a proposal for al fresco dining at the Supermart on Front Street, and an application to turn a balcony into office space at 72 Church Street.

Additionally, the City agreed not to raise its rental rates for concessions in parking lots around Hamilton although events project manager Danilee Trott said the current rate of $100 an hour for the City Hall foyer will increase to $150 an hour next year, and $200 an hour for 2013.

Councillor John Harvey noted the City has had success in renting out Pier Six along Front Street for Friday nights throughout this summer: the Pier 6 company will rent the location out for happy hour nights throughout the summer, on nights when cruise ships are not in port.

Weathering hard times: The weather vane, a bronze replica of the Sea Venture ship, atop City Hall in Hamilton. The City of Hamilton is looking to reduce staff costs as it comes to terms with lower revenue.

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Published March 11, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated March 11, 2011 at 8:59 am)

Mayor says ‘it is not a pretty picture’ as City Hall looks to reduce staff costs

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