City lets go of five employees

Five long-serving employees of the Livable City Initiative will lose their jobs as part of a measure to cut costs in LCI’s increasingly tight budget.

The five employees — all single women — were informed by their union, AFSCME Local 3144, of the city’s decision on Jan. 30. At a joint meeting of the Community Development and Human Services Aldermanic Committees on Thursday night, Livable City Initiative officials said they are being forced to cut back on staff because of cuts in federal funding the city.

Georgianne Dogolo, one of the five employees who will be laid off, said she feels insulted by the way the city has treated her and her co-workers. She said the city gave her very little notice of the decision and no replacement offers. Dogolo criticized the city for laying off senior employees — who all have between 12 and 20 years of experience — when there are less experienced workers and interns who have not lost their jobs.

“We are employees with 20 years of experience and are still able to contribute,” Dogolo said. “Why not lay off people with the least seniority?”

But Liz Smith, a spokesperson for the Livable City Initiative, said the current budget for the LCI is untenable as they have no more assets to liquidate and have experienced an increase in expenses, notably due to more union contracts.

The Livable City Initiative helps local residents and developers with individual housing issues in the city.

Ward 10 Alderman Edward Mattison, who chairs the Community Development Committee, said the Livable City Initiative has run a deficit over the last few years because of cuts in federal funding. The city has run out of the savings it had formerly used to cover the gap, he said.

“This is going to be a very painful time for us, and everybody’s goal is to minimize the pain,” he said.

He said he has contacted Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s office to seek federal help, but no commitments have yet been made.

In a fax sent by the AFSCME Local 3144 Management Union to the Board of Aldermen, the union said they asked the city to delay the layoffs in order to allow the workers to find a position in a different section of the department.

Members of the Board of Aldermen said they were disappointed by the announcement and by the administration’s failure to notify the Board of Aldermen of the situation. Ward 3 Alderwoman Jacqueline James said she fears the city’s method of laying people off is too opaque.

The next Aldermanic Committee meeting on the matter is scheduled for Feb. 6.

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