On Monday, Spark human resources manager Chris Syverson will announce that 39 employees will take the buyout package and leave city employ. Among these are the city’s finance director, its government affairs manager and three from the fire department.
In all, 44 people applied for the separation packages but the city only had severance money for 40 people. According to reports from Syverson, three employees withdrew their request to leave and the two others didn’t qualify.
The buyout move was made in October to avoid layoffs in a tough budget year for the city of Sparks. All full-time employees could apply for the buyout, which would give them 75 percent of one year’s salary and their choice of a medical benefits package.
“That is not the end all in terms of solving the budget difficulties,” city spokesman Adam Mayberry said in October after the buyout package was approved. “If it is overwhelmingly successful there could be some staff reduction down the road.”
The buyouts were offered as the city stares down a possible $3.1 million shortfall in the coming fiscal year. Implementation of the buyouts is expected to cost the city an initial $1.6 million, which will be paid out of city savings accounts. According to Mayberry, the program will save the city up to $2.7 million under the best case scenario, meaning cuts will still have to be made in other areas.
The shortfall is because of the county assessor’s expectation to reduce the property taxes based on lower assessed values of commercial and industrial properties resulting from a high vacancy rate, Mayberry said in October.
The city’s 2008-2009 budget was sliced by about $5.25 million, which brought many layoffs. Also, the 2009-2010 budget is 4.6 percent leaner than last year’s.
According to Mayberry, the buyout option trimmed city expenses while potentially sidestepping the painful process of layoffs. However, he added that if projections for the 2010-2011 budget are as bleak as or worse than projected, nothing is off the budgetary chopping block.
The buyout option was approved to “allow the city to review and seriously consider what essential functions are necessary to operations and what functions may be eliminated or restructured in the long term,” according to documents Syverson prepared for a Monday report to the Sparks City Council.
The report was prepared with help from the city’s finance director, Tom Minton, who will be among those taking the buyout. Minton was also the face that presented the budgetary shortfalls to the Sparks City Council throughout the past years, bringing the news of layoffs and cutbacks.