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City's budget cuts could eliminate two jobs

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news Farmington, 55024
Farmington Independent
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Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Two city of Farmington employees may be looking for new jobs if the Farmington City Council decides to cut their positions next Monday.

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During a 2011 budget workshop Monday, council members identified two staff positions they feel could be eliminated in order to save city programs and other departments.

The positions in question are the economic development specialist post, held by Tina Hansmeier, and the administrative services director, held by Lisa Shadick.

Doing away with the two positions could free up a significant amount of money, and allow the city to continue with services that would otherwise be cut.

The city council had asked Farmington city administrator Peter Herlofsky and finance director Teresa Walters to identify $400,000 to $500,000 in cuts to the upcoming year's budget.

The two found $400,000 in cuts, but council members found fault with some of those options. The cuts Herlofsky and Walters presented included trimming $10,000 in office supplies or saving $5,000 by using color copiers, down to little things like trimming $200 for scrapers and air fresheners for parks and recreation vehicles.

Council member Christy Jo Fogarty saw the cuts as one-time solutions that would not solve anything when it came time to sit down and balance the 2012 budget. And most of her colleagues agreed.

"I'm just worried about people not being able to do their jobs because they don't have the equipment to do them. That makes me concerned that we, meaning the city, are setting ourselves up to fail," said mayor Todd Larson.

Eliminating positions could also mean that parks and recreation programs that would otherwise suffer -- from cutting the staff who man the ice rink warming houses, for example -- can be saved.

Herlofsky estimates the combined salaries and benefits for Hansmeier and Shadick are around $200,000, which still falls short of council's $400,000 to $500,000 goal. But council members have two months to work through the other line items and determine what else can be cut before the final budget and levy is approved in December.

Repercussions

A few council members have called for staff reductions for the past couple of years, but for the most part, the city has been able to balance its budget without any significant position cuts. At next Monday's regular meeting, the city council will be asked to formally decide whether or not they want to eliminate either or both of the positions identified this week.

On Tuesday, Herlofsky said his impression was that the two employees would still be on staff through the end of 2010, even though council will be asked to make staffing decisions in October.

If the council decides to eliminate the position of the administrative services director prior to the end of the year, it could mean a whole lot of work for other staff, particularly in November. Part of Shadick's job is to oversee everything related to elections.

Though there are others who have worked with Shadick on Farmington's general elections, none of them are trained in election law and process to the extent Shadick is. Next year is not an election year, but Shadick typically attends training sessions during non-election years. And 2012 brings a presidential election, as well, which is a much larger-scale process.

But Herlofsky says Hansmeier's position is also valuable within the city of Farmington. After years of stagnant movement in the city's economic climate, there appears to be a renewed interest in the community among potential business owners. Hansmeier has been the primary contact for the city for those business owners.

"Both individuals have very important roles, and how that's going to be divvied up or shared will be very interesting," Herlofsky said Tuesday.

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Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and is the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
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