There's an increasing concern in Southport regarding possible cuts to the city's budget and the impact it could have on city employees.
The Board of Alderman will meet Thursday to discuss several options to save money - including cutting health care benefits, not allowing on-call personnel to drive home city vehicles, and discontinuing the city's laundry service for employee work clothes.
Former City Manager Rob Gandy tells us that several employees have called him with concerns but are too afraid to speak out.
"When the employees tell me they're scared and they don't want to go to somebody else that does not foster a good working environment down there at city hall," said Gandy. "That's one of my greatest concerns. When our employees are disgruntled, then we're not going to get the same level of service that we've come to expect."
Gandy believes that allowing on-call personnel to take city vehicles home would save major time when they are called out. He also explained that many employees work in dangerous environments and come into contact with substances that can cause injury or the spread of diseases. Therefore, if work clothes are taken home for laundering, there is a chance that diseases could spread by being mixed with regular clothing. Gandy said the insurance subsidies paid for the Mayor and Board are not on the chopping block.
"I think true leadership starts at the top. If the Mayor and the board want to set the right example, they should take the lead," said Gandy. "They should be the first ones to do some cutting of their own budget. If everybody's got to be cut then they should be cut and they should lead by example and I don't believe that's being done."
Alderman Todd Coring said he has spoken to Gandy and other concerned employees as well. Coring, who started as a maintenance worker for the town, said he too is concerned about the possible impact of these cuts on town employees.
Coring said he's anxious
to participate in the board's discussion and was clear to point out that none of the proposals have been formally added to the budget at this point.
The Board of Alderman will host a public hearing on Thursday. Coring tells us he does not expect the board to take a final vote on the budget just yet.
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