Lackawanna Mayor Thomas E. Radich says he is confident that the City Council lacks the votes necessary to override his vetoes of job cuts the Council made in the fire and police departments.
On Friday, Radich vetoed about $1.5 million of the $1.8 million in cuts the Council made in his original $14.7 million budget, including the elimination of 14 jobs in the Fire Department and five on the police force. He also vetoed the elimination of 15 other jobs.
Noting that the cuts were approved by a 3-2 vote of the Council and that it takes four votes to override a veto, Radich said that there is a "good chance" that all the vetoes will be sustained and that "I'm almost positive the public-safety jobs will be restored."
Radich gained one of the two votes necessary to sustain the vetoes after Council President Edward Tokarz said Friday that "I'll be with him (Radich) 100 percent on what he has restored."
First Ward Councilman George W. Halsey also voted against the cuts June 11 and said then that elimination of so many firefighters' jobs went too far. He could not be reached to comment Friday.
Third Ward Councilman Leonard A. Woyshner, who supported the cuts and is the lone Republican on the Council, said there now are two choices: Radich "can resign or we can impeach him."
Woyshner said the mayor, a Democrat, "is totally out of touch with reality and not sympathetic to the needs of taxpayers and businessmen.
"I'm already getting calls, and people are upset that we (Council members) didn't go far enough. We were attempting to set new policy to bring fiscal responsibility to the community."
According to a preliminary estimate by Finance Commissioner Robert T. Dombrowski, if the vetoes are sustained, the homestead tax rate would go from the current $14.62 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $14.80, and the non-homestead rate from $21.41 to $36.70.
Under the Council plan, the homestead-tax rate would have decreased by about $2.46 per $1,000 to $12.16, while the non-homestead would rise about $8.37 to $29.78.
Radich did not veto about $335,000 worth of cuts made by the Council. Included in that figure are about $180,000 in pension-cost reductions that became known after he had submitted his budget to the Council.
The job cuts the Council approved were in addition to the 28 jobs -- including nine police officers and eight firefighters -- already eliminated under Radich's plan.
"It was irresponsible" of the Council majority to trim so many firefighters' jobs without first talking to the fire chief to assess the impact, Radich said.
The additional police cuts would reduce the force "to such an extent that it would be an open invitation to those who would break the law" and place remaining officers "in jeopardy by eliminating backup personnel," he said.
Radich's other vetoes included:
Salary decreases -- Cutting the salary of the mayor and the Council members by 5 percent would violate the City Charter, Radich said. (The Council majority proposed a law to amend the charter.) Cutting the pay of other non-union personnel by 5 percent would be unfair because they face an increased work burden, while the pay of union members is protected by contract, he said. As it is, he said, no salary increases were proposed in the budget.
Other job cuts -- The public-information officer, assistant comptroller, real property appraiser, assistant city attorney, part-time City Court typist and the Public Works Department positions of draftsman, timekeeper, janitor, sanitation foreman and three watchmen all are necessary to run the city, Radich said.
Radich vetoed the proposed elimination of other jobs without explanation. Those jobs include recreation attendant, sign painter and youth-employment coordinator.
The Council has 30 days to act on the vetoes.