With a 2012 budget that was predicated on increases to employee contributions to the city's health insurance plan, the city of Tiffin may have to look at layoffs if agreements with the remaining unions are not reached soon.
During a meeting Monday evening, Tiffin City Council passed an ordinance decreasing the salary lines for many union employees by more than $36,000, to offset the amount needed for the continued use of the 2011 health plan.
During a Finance Committee meeting before council, Mayor Aaron Montz said he sent an email to affected department heads Jan. 9 stating updated budgets needed to be submitted that show how the departments plan to make the cuts necessary for the reminder of the year, as there is no set date when agreements with the collective bargaining units may be reached. Collectively, departments would have to cut $436,655.40 for the year.
"I informed the department heads that this is the only month we'll be doing it (by the month). After this, it will be cuts," Montz said at the committee meeting.
As of Monday's meeting, the police dispatchers union had come to agreement with the city, and the fire department should be reaching an agreement soon. The police and public works unions still are in negotiations with the city.
Montz said a 14-day notice is required if layoffs are necessary.
Although the collective bargaining units were meeting regularly with city administration prior to the new year, talks were put on hold until parties would know the outcome of Senate Bill 5. Voters rejected the measure, called Issue 2 on the November ballot. It would have limited collective bargaining for public employees.
In other news, council and Planning Commission met to discuss rezoning two parcels of land adjacent to Nile Street and Colony Avenue owned by Mar-San Ltd. and Hunt Real Estate Developers Inc. A petition was made to have the properties changed from residential to commercial zoning.
The petition was made by Elaine Hunt, who owns the properties and ECS Billing and Consulting. Hunt plans to use the properties for employee parking, with the possibility of using them for expansion of the business.
Cindy Ardner, a resident of Nile Street, spoke in opposition to the rezoning. Presenting a petition signed by 61 Tiffin residents, 51 of whom live in the area, Ardner said people are "tired" of businesses coming into residential areas.
Ardner, along with other neighbors in the area, were vocal in opposition last fall to a petition to vacate an alley running behind ECS Billing, as they used the alley to maneuver personal trucks and trailers.
Planning Commission is to make a decision about rezoning the properties and report the findings to council.
In another matter, Police Lt. Fred Stevens was appointed to interim police chief following the resignation of Chief Dave LaGrange. LaGrange is to take a position as chief of police in Waterville; his resignation is effective Jan. 27.
Also, council passed an ordinance allowing City Administrator Deb Reamer to look into a new phone system for the city.