Friday, March 28, 2008

Talking about Letting Government Workers Go, Shouldn’t be Taboo

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Pensacola’s sanitation workers showed up to make the case for keeping them employed with the city. Rick Outzen posted a blog that said, “Employees spoke on behalf of their service and their jobs when solid waste consolidation was discussed as follow-up from the recent joint city-commission meeting.”

I know it’s going to sound very cold, but I hope the City Council was not swayed by the workers’ arguments.

I thoroughly empathize with Pensacola’s sanitation workers, but sometimes, governments need to make cut-backs. This is especially true for Pensacola after Florida voters recently passed Amendment 1 which will cut funding to local governments.

We need to have a serious discussion about trimming the fat in Pensacola’s payroll budget. Politicians and constituents shouldn’t shy away from this discussion because we think it’s too sensitive of a subject.

I’ll start the discussion.

Businesses talk about layoffs all the time. It’s unpleasant, but it’s the natural order of things in the business community. If labor is becoming too expensive for a business, they start letting people go. It should be the same way in government.

Obviously, if City Hall is talking about consolidating sanitation services, it has become too expensive to pay for all of Pensacola’s sanitation workers. This tells us that making jobs cuts in sanitation services is the next logical step for City Hall. It’s becoming too expensive for the city, which means it’s also becoming too expensive for Pensacola’s taxpayers.

After letting them go, the city should direct the workers to state and federal assistance that will help them out until they find a new job. State and federal agencies also have programs that will pay to retrain laid-off workers. The sanitation workers will have opportunities to quickly get back on their feet after they are let go. Don’t worry; they’ll be fine.

It’s time to start talking about letting city workers go because Pensacola’s taxpayers are being burdened by unneeded expenses.

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