Yucca Valley Announces Cutbacks - Hits to Museum and Recreation
03/28/2013 06:42PM ● Published by Steve
Today the Town of Yucca Valley announced a 17 percent reduction in staffing, including the loss of two museum positions, including the museum supervisor, and two recreation positions.
It is unclear whether the Hi-Desert Nature Museum will be closed as a result, but the museum operates with only four staff members. What is clear is that there will be significant impacts to one area where the Town of Yucca Valley excels - family oriented recreation and programs.
The museum, though relatively modest in size, produces a hectic schedule of activities filled to the brim with educational and arts workshops for children, among other offerings. It also hosted annual events and provided one of the town's only tourist destinations. There are rumors the community pool will also close, though that has not been verified at this point.
We are asking for additional information on the exact impacts of these cuts, and will include the information as it becomes available. It is unclear what, if any, public hearings on these cuts took place prior to this announcement.
The full text of today's announcement follows:
The Town of Yucca Valley announced a reorganization today affecting numerous positions throughout the organization. In an effort to advance a balanced budget for the upcoming FY 2013/14 as well as a long-term sustainable financial structure, the Town has taken a series of steps to reduce the costs of the organization. These include early retirements, elimination of positions, and restructuring of the organization.
The FY 2013/14 Baseline Budget was projected with a deficit approaching $400,000. Additional unfunded liabilities increase the structural deficit of expenditures exceeding revenues to over $750,000 annually. Town Council directed staff to bring forward strategies for delivering a balanced budget and were presented with an Early Retirement Incentive Program on March 26th. The Town Council authorized that Early Retirement program and a number of eligible employees have opted to retire from the organization.
Included in this list of retirees are the following positions: Town Clerk, Community Services Director, Museum Supervisor, Administrative Assistant II – Animal Shelter, Code Compliance Technician & Museum Assistant.
“I thank all the staff who opted for early retirement. In taking this incentive, they are helping the Town balance its budget. This action is also bittersweet, as the employees who are eligible for this program are long-term employees, including two who have been here since shortly after Incorporation,” said Mark Nuaimi, Town Manager. “We want to thank them for their contributions over the years and wish them well in their retirement. They will always be family,” said Nuaimi. Of the six early retirements, two positions will be recruited and backfilled – the Animal Shelter Administrative Assistant & Code Compliance Technician.
In addition to early retirements, the Town manager has also announced a series of organizational changes that are resulting in additional positions being eliminated, a new position being created in response to the restructuring, and several recruitments to replace some of the early retirees.
Specifically, the Town has eliminated the following positions: Associate Planner and Recreation Coordinators (2 positions). A new Recreation Supervisor position will be created and will be filled via an internal recruitment. The Town also had a recent resignation in the Public Works Department (Skilled Maintenance Worker II – Roads) and that position is going to be left vacant for the upcoming year. There are other minor organizational adjustments being made in response to this comprehensive restructuring.
In total, the restructuring reduces the Town’s full time employment count from 41.75 to 34.75 – a 17% reduction in the organization. Factoring in the costs of the Early Retirement Incentive Program and severance costs tied to the additional layoffs, the reorganization will save the Town over $300,000 in the first year and will provide recurring annual savings over $725,000.
This restructuring plan impacts all parts of the Town organization – at all levels of the organization. Accordingly, the Town asks the community for patience as they work through the organizational changes and the accompanying impacts to services provided.
The public is invited and encouraged to attend the budget workshops on April 2, 2013 (6:00 PM) and Saturday April 6, 2013 (9:00 – 11:00 AM) where further information will be made available about the new organizational structure and its ability to provide services to the community. Additionally, these workshops will provide the public with multiple opportunities to discuss community priorities and how those will be delivered with the newly-configured organization.