Mayor’s Office, general government, to cut jobs, pay

General government services represent 2 percent of the city’s total budget. If eliminated entirely, these departments’ budgets would account for only 18 percent of the total $21.3 million in revenue reductions facing the City of South Bend by 2010.

But the Mayor’s Office and other general government service departments ­ Administration & Finance, Building, Legal and City Clerk ­ will cut their budgets by more than $3.8 million by 2010. These cuts would account for nearly 6 percent of the total $21.8 million in reduced property-tax revenue for the city over the next two years as a result of House Enrolled Act 1001. The share of cuts for general government services is greater than their proportion of total revenue lost from the tax shifts, which mandated by the governor and the state legislature.

More than one-fifth of staff serving these departments ­ 17 positions ­ will be cut by 2010, according to a spending plan presented today to the Common Council. Many remaining staff, including the Mayor’s Office, will experience pay freezes in 2009. In addition, staff in the Mayor’s Office, along with all city department heads, will take a voluntary 5 percent pay cut in 2010. Mayor Stephen J. Luecke personally will take the voluntary cut both in 2009 and again in 2010.

The Mayor’s Office and Board of Public Safety will cut $228,711 over two years, a nearly 25 percent reduction by 2010. One position will be eliminated in 2009, reducing the Mayor’s Office to eight staff. The Mayor’s Office had eliminated another full-time position in 2008.

Administration & Finance will cut $509,468 by 2010, a nearly 32 percent reduction of its current $1.6 million budget. Some savings will be achieved through a reduction in services. For example, staff will process business license only four days per week, rather than five. Five positions will be eliminated in 2009 and 2 more in 2010. The department also is exploring whether to outsource payroll and information-technology services.

Legal will cut $499,361 by 2010, a 53 percent reduction of its $935,080 budget. The department will cut three positions in 2009 (while reducing hours in an additional position) and another 4 jobs in 2010. This will cut the 14-member department in half, reducing the amount of services provided to other city departments. The department now consists of five part-time attorneys, four full-time attorneys and five other full-time staff.

Staff in the City Clerk’s Office will not receive raises in 2009, enabling a virtually flat budget between 2008 and 2010. The council also is reviewing the budget for Century Center, which is projecting a 13 percent reduction in its budget to $3,276,439 in 2009. In 2007, the City contracted with Global Spectrum, which hired City employees, to manage the convention facility. Century Center is supported by the county’s hotel-motel tax, grants and other fees.

South Bend, other Indiana cities and local governments historically have relied on property taxes as a primary source for funding general services. But a plan to reduce property taxes proposed by Gov. Mitch Daniels and adopted this spring by the Legislature as House Enrolled Act 1001 capped the amount paid by all property owners. This will result in significant tax reductions for property owners ­ and dramatically less revenue for all tax-supported entities, including cities, counties, schools and libraries. While the legislation raised the state’s sales tax by 1 cent on April 1, all of those resources go to the state.