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Ott says no layoffs likely in next year’s budget

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 by Austin Monitor

City Manager Marc Ott on Monday predicted the city would be able to make it through the next fiscal year without layoffs. He told KLBJ (590 AM) talk show host Kenny Rahmeyer that, “I’m very confident that we have done what we needed to do to close the budget (gap). And I think that in terms of what are the current levels of programs and services that people enjoy by and large are going to stay the same.”


The City Council is set to receive the manager’s Draft Policy Budget later this month. Ott told Rahmeyer that since he arrived in February, he had been working with city department heads to cut expenses during the current fiscal year.


“I called on all the city workforce to identify those opportunities, and in many ways we did, and so we were able to make sure that we lived within our current means, which also had positive implications for the challenges facing us for the 2009 budget,” he said. “In terms of layoffs or anything like that…we’re not going to see that at all. I don’t expect any extraordinary pain to be experienced by anyone inside or outside of City Hall.”


Now that he has been on the job for a few months, Ott said he is considering some changes to the city’s organizational structure. “I do want to look at some of the alignment issues to make sure that we’ve got the various departments aligned appropriately. I suspect I, at some point, will make some changes in that regard. It’s possible I may do some reorganization in the city manager’s office as well,” he said.


Ott plans a “strategic planning session” with Assistant City Managers, the Chief of Staff, and other key executives during the next month to review those issues. “We’ll see where we end up in that discussion,” he said. “It’s possible that out of that we could pursue some organizational changes.”


During the 15-minute conversation, Ott also addressed some of the controversy surrounding his awareness of the fire at the Governor’s Mansion. “There is a long-standing policy and procedure in place for notification and communication when we have significant emergencies that occur in the city. I relied on that and…had it worked properly at the time that the fire occurred I would have been notified. I was not. And unfortunately, the next day I was indisposed and simply didn’t read the newspaper that day.”


Ott said if he had been called about the fire, “I would have been on the scene, in fact, even though I’m not a firefighter or police officer. But I would have been on the scene providing whatever support I could provide, and making sure that the Mayor and Council got notified at that time.”

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