Kingston layoffs set to take effect
by Matt Shinall
Nov 08, 2010 | 1761 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In an Oct. 18 special called meeting, the Kingston City Council voted to lay off two full-time maintenance department employees and transfer two full-time police officers to reserve status effective Tuesday, Nov. 9.

The effect date falls one day after tonight's monthly regular meeting. Although the item was not on the agenda at last week's work session, the timing of the delay suggests that the matter will be discussed during the meeting, as Mayor Dexter Jones confirmed.

"That is something that we have to address because it's been addressed before," Jones said. "Unless the city council chooses to reverse what they did, as far as eliminating the police positions and eliminating any other positions, then I'm in an obligation to do what I was told to do."

There are currently four full-time police officers on duty in Kingston, although one officer is currently on medical leave. These layoffs would ultimately decrease the force by half. A reserve officer serves only on a voluntary basis with no compensation. The matter of hiring reserve officers to supplement the police force has been addressed separately, but when the mayor brought an applicant to the council for approval Monday, Oct. 25, the motion died for lack of a second.

The underlying current in recent decisions has been the opposing views of financial stability in Kingston held by the mayor and council. Jones continues to uphold his conviction that the city is financially stable, while the council feels the need for direct action in cutting expenses.

"It is my responsibility to let everybody know where we are and what we are doing and I commented to [the council] and the general public -- very strongly -- that we are not in a financial situation that would warrant this," Jones said, adding that the discrepancies arise from a fault in record keeping. "We are in a very dangerous situation. I can't stress that to the general public and city council enough that the records are quite simply not being kept and it is an awful, awful situation and it's my responsibility to get that straightened out immediately. Having said that, if the city council still wishes to make cuts, all I can do is make my recommendations to them."

The city is still awaiting the 2009 audit, which lags months behind the expected completion date due to the difficulty auditors have had in acquiring proper documentation. Jones hopes to have the audit completed later this month to shed some light on the situation. Until that time, he said that rumors generated about the financial situation do nothing but harm the city's image.

The city council will meet today at 7 p.m. at city hall. If no action is taken tonight to alter the vote taken last month, the layoffs will take effect Tuesday.