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WORKERS ASKED TO HOLD FIRE ON TWO REORGANIZATION PLANS

City workers and office staff learning of possible job cuts during a Tuesday night presentation of two Parks and Recreation Department reorganization alternatives were asked to withhold criticism and identify possible improvements when the Olean Common Council assesses the plans' impact on youths programs.

Ward 5 Alderwoman Paula Snyder, who is also chairwoman of the parks/recreation and youth committee, told about 60 people attending the work session that the Council will seek public input and research cost savings of both plans. Both alternatives would necessitate a change in the city's charter, she said.

The result could mean up to a 10 percent reduction in the department's work force, said Mrs. Snyder.

Both plans were developed as a result of Mayor John Ash's suggestion to place the parks department under the Department of Public Works. A private not-for-profit recreation department would be created to manage all programs and services. Savings under his proposal are estimated at $217,000.

In addition, eight city employees would lose their jobs, but the private commission would receive an annual subsidy of $100,000 and all recreation revenues.

The second alternative, developed by Mrs. Snyder, would save taxpayers less money, eliminate only three jobs and allow the city to control programs.

About $120,000 would be saved through the elimination of three jobs -- supervisors of the recreation center and youth programs and one stenographer. Another $25,000 would be saved as a result of unspecified transportation fleet reductions, with another $33,000 to be cut from the Public Works Department budget through the attrition of one employee.

Under the plan's team management approach, the police juvenile officer would act as youth services coordinator.

Olean resident Kevin McClelland called the organization a "farce" and said he probably could not afford to use the city's recreation facilities if they were privatized. He added he would not trust programs run by volunteers.

Parks and Recreation Director David Forney said after the meeting that he supports a third "do nothing" alternative, which would keep his department's operation the same. Forney, 59, has worked for the city for 22 years.

"Both (alternatives) call for the elimination of my job," he said, adding he would be forced to take a penalty against his pension if he loses his job, and he hopes the city would wait until after he retires to reorganize the department.

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