Fallout from City of Red Deer’s tight budget results in job cuts

Almost 10 full-time equivalent positions gone

The equivalent of almost 10 jobs will be gone as the City of Red Deer’s 2017 operating budget starts to roll out.

The city announced Thursday that permanent, temporary and casual positions are affected and the overall result amounts to 9.75 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) jobs. As well, some vacant positions have been eliminated.

It’s the first time in recent memory the city has measurable staffing cuts, and therefore service level reductions. The reductions are tied directly the tighter-than-usual operating budget recently approved by city council.

Some of the areas affected include reductions in evening operating hours at Culture Services, reduction in service levels at the Collicutt Centre in the Fitness and Wellness areas, elimination of dedicated wrist-banding personnel at the Collicutt Centre and decreased late night Transit service.

FTEs do not reflect the actual number of positions or people that will be affected. In 2016, the city had 1,469 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. Personnel makes up 40 per cent, or $142.8 million, of the city’s 2017 $356-million operating budget.

City manager Craig Curtis said that during pre-budget surveys, some of the feedback from the public was that the city could cut staff. “There was no doubt that was part of the input. Council’s attitude was to that we have to look at staff and service together.”

The city did make some adjustments to staffing in the 2009 budget but it was just a few positions. “It was nothing like this one,” Curtis said.

The actual number of people affected is not being released at this time, however those people affected have been notified. A number will be provided in later on, he said.

The timing of the cuts depends on each area affected — some are immediate in terms of not hiring summer staff. “In many cases, I doubt the public would be severely impacted,” Curtis said.

“This is it for this budget year I believe, unless there’s some significant change with the provincial budget.”

There might be longer line-ups in some cases for customer service but the city will monitor this, and if necessary, make adjustments, he said.

”Obviously adjustments had to be made but I think council was very, very sympathetic to try and balance between service to the community, and on the other side, responsibility to staff and the fact that we do expect things to begin to pick up again,” Curtis said.

“It is with a great deal of empathy that we do this. … It’s been very tough.”

barr@reddeeradvocate