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Poulsbo mayor says there will be no involuntary layoffs at city

POULSBO — A voluntary quitting program at the City of Poulsbo was so successful no employees will involuntarily lose their job, said Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson.

Thirteen employees applied for the program, “which is amazing and actually more than we need,” Erickson said. “We are now not looking at any involuntary separations.”

Employees had until Sept. 1 to apply for the Voluntary Separation Program, which offered a severance bonus and extended health care for those who vacate their positions.

The city offered the program as a way to help balance its 2011 budget.

Nine applicants had been accepted as of Wednesday, and Erickson will discuss necessary staffing levels with department heads so as not to cut personnel too low before accepting any more.

Running a new city hall, which will open later this fall, is one consideration taken into account, Erickson said.

Previously the city planned to eliminate one police officer position, which would have resulted in an involuntary layoff, but another member of the department volunteered to leave. That was the only involuntary layoff planned, though many of those who applied for the program were warned their jobs could be in danger.

Other positions considered for elimination include an executive assistant to the mayor, three judicial specialists and several office clerks.

Employees who are leaving have until the end of the year to do so. About 80 city staff will remain.

Despite staffing cuts the city still faces a general fund shortfall, which the budgeting process will address in October.

Finance Director Debbie Booher said the shortfall could be roughly $300,000, but that number is unofficial.

"It's a moving target at this point," she said.

Booher estimated staffing cuts could save the city about $840,000 in mid-August, when only 11 positions were being considered for elimination. Actual savings won't be known until staffing adjustments are finalized next week.

Erickson also announced she'll be working 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday in city hall, holding office hours for those who'd like to talk with her.

Erickson said she used to walk through neighborhoods to hear opinions and concerns but no longer has the time, so she'll try to connect with citizens another way.

"I will be here, we can sit down and talk and you can tell me what your concerns are," she said. "I am here. I am listening."

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