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Mohan says the public supports job-cut plan

Amherst Town Supervisor Satish Mohan says he has public support for his plan to cut about 27 positions and save $2.5 million in the 2010 budget proposal he is preparing.

He says his research shows about 85 percent of the 1,000 town residents who answered a survey favor cutting town staff and merging departments.

"We have too many employees and we pay them too much," said Mohan, speaking in his office after a Town Board meeting Tuesday. "The excess must stop."

Mohan said he plans to finish the details of his proposed staff cuts toward the end of the month, before he finishes his preliminary town budget. Eventually, during the budget process, the Town Board will have to approve the ideas.

"I'm committing to the people that I'll not increase the tax levy," Mohan said of his plan to keep the part of the budget paid by property taxes the same as this year's -- $73 million.

One department merger, proposed by Council Members Barry Weinstein and Guy Marlette, was approved Tuesday in a 5-1 vote. The trash collecting department is now part of the Highway Department, a move that should save about $104,000, Mohan said. The refuse department's retiring manager and secretary will not be replaced, and the two remaining workers will continue in the Highway Department.

Plans to shave the number of town employees are going forward, said Mohan. He said Council Member Mark Manna is meeting with unions to offer voluntary severance incentives of $15,000.

"If 10 people take this, then 10 less people will be laid off," Mohan said.

Mohan, who will return to his job as a University at Buffalo engineering professor next spring, said he came up with the department cuts by studying the tasks and number of people needed to do the work.

His examples of excess include the eight planners. There are four more than necessary in these positions, which cost about $106,000 in salary and benefits, he said. Amherst also does not need three analysts to work on the electronic GPS mapping systems, such as the kind in police cars, he added.
Cutting two would save $176,000 in salary and benefits, he said.

e-mail: mkearns@buffnews.com

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