Fairhope Mayor: Hiring freeze impacting city services - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Fairhope Mayor: Hiring freeze impacting city services

Fairhope Mayor: Hiring freeze starting to impact city services. Source: FOX 10 News Fairhope Mayor: Hiring freeze starting to impact city services. Source: FOX 10 News

Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson says a hiring freeze imposed by the City Council is starting to impact city services. A 60 day hiring freeze was put in place at the end of February 27th after Wilson fired two long-time city employees. 

Wilson says every city department is feeling the impact.
"They're struggling. They've been struggling and of course I've made this very clear at all of the City Council meetings and emails - this is affecting our department heads, which now is going to affect services for our citizens," said Mayor Wilson. 
In a press release, Wilson said:

The Nix Center, a venue that has long been a consistent revenue-generator for our city and a gathering place for more than 1,400 senior citizen members, will no longer have a manager after Friday. This loss could mean that the multiple events held there daily will soon have to come to an end and wedding reservations will also have to be halted. Further complicating matters, we have growing concerns on how to handle the many weddings that have already been booked there - and there is currently no option for an interim manager.
Overtime is also causing major problems in multiple city departments and difficult decisions are having to be made daily to alleviate it - decisions that wouldn't be necessary if we were able to begin hiring again soon:
?    Recycling will have to be decreased to allow workers to focus on the required two times weekly garbage pickup.
?    Flower services will soon begin to suffer as landscaping personnel is being pulled to help with basic services in Public Works
?    Hours at our tennis courts will soon need to be cut and tournaments - and the revenue they generate - will begin to suffer as a result, while soccer will also begin to suffer because of the inability to maintain fields to optimum levels.
?    At the Recreation Center, staffing issues could cause closure of the facility on Sundays and two hours earlier, at 6 p.m., on weekdays.
?    In our Water Department, staffing issues are at the center of a recommendation that will require the department to close daily at lunch and shift to a four-day work week.
Fairhope City Council President Jack Burrell says this is just political grandstanding by the mayor and no negative impacts will be felt.
"The mayor is using this for political gain. It's totally childish behavior and I don't appreciate it. She's just trying to get the citizens stirred up over nothing to instill her will over the council," said Burrell. 

Burrell says there or 5 to 6 vacancies in the budget affected by the freeze and Wilson is proposing an additional 30 new positions. 
"More than likely, I can't speak for every council member, I feel confident we would pass a budget at Monday's council meeting, which would allow many positions proposed… new positions filled.. As well as lifting the hiring freeze. She knew that as early as this morning… prior to putting this out there. So the comments are not appreciated," said Burrell. 

Meanwhile, Mayor Wilson says even if the hiring freeze is lifted early, it will take time to fill the positions.

"Who knows what's going to happen between now and then. Again, even when the hiring freeze is lifted - it's still going to take several months to get what we need," said Wilson. 

Wilson says she's holding a special meeting with all department heads Friday at 1 p.m. ahead of Monday's City Council meeting to hear what concerns they're facing. 

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