Plan B

City Councilman Dale Fritchen and some other council members (though not all, among them Mayor Ann Johnston) are more than a little frustrated that City Manager Gordon Palmer’s budget-balancing proposal relies on millions of dollars in labor concessions and federal aid, and Fritchen has been asking Palmer lately what City Hall will do if the money does not come or is less than expected.

There was some back and forth between Fritchen and Palmer on that at the meeting this afternoon of the City Council’s budget and finance committee. Palmer said, as he has before, that his Plan B involves “staffing levels,” which is one way of saying more layoffs would be ordered. Fritchen was not pleased.

This year’s council members have a habit of hanging out on the dais after meetings end, and after today’s meeting Deputy City Manager Laurie Montes joined Fritchen and the other committee members, Vice Mayor Kathy Miller and Councilman Elbert Holman Jr. Montes told the council members there is a Plan B but that the administration could not discuss it publicly because of ongoing labor negotiations, Fritchen said.

Not that Plan B is a mystery. The city’s general fund is dominated by payroll costs, and if millions of dollars are removed from that budget, many employees more are likely to be laid off.

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