Truckee building department looking at layoffs after bad building year | SierraSun.com

Truckee building department looking at layoffs after bad building year

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Truckee’s building department will be tightening its belt after a slow construction season has halved budget projections by nearly $1 million.

The department, operated as an enterprise fund that is supposed to be financially self-sufficient, has experienced dwindling revenue with lower residential project applications and permits this year.

“The revenue we collect from permits and applications should cover our expenditures,” said Mike Lavallee, the town’s chief building official. “But new residential permits are down.”

Those permits have dropped from 326 in 2006 to 164 so far in 2007, according to town documents. That has resulted in a shortfall in the building department’s projected budget of $2.1 million to $1.2 million, according to current estimates in a staff report.

Uncertainty over the department’s budget last spring had officials projecting $1.7 million in revenue, leading to a roughly $500,000 “loan” from the town’s general fund. But in missing the $1.7 million mark by another $500,000, other options are now being considered by staff.

The structure of the loan repayment has not been determined, said Tony Lashbrook, Truckee town manager

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Meanwhile, to limit further losses in the department the town is considering cost-cutting measures. This would involve leaving a building inspector opening vacant, transferring a public service technician to the police department, laying off a building inspector and a plans examiner, using building personnel for snow removal work and parking district duties, and implementing a 90 percent work week for other employees, according to the report.

Lavallee said a 90 percent work week would entail one day off every two weeks, a measure he plans on taking himself.

Layoffs will likely be decided by the most recent employee evaluations, Lavallee said.

With two employees retiring or transferring within the town, and two more potentially being laid off, Lashbrook said staffing would be at the pre-market boom levels.

“Layoffs at the town like this have never happened before,” Lashbrook said. “The size after this would be similar to the size before the department staffed up.”

Lashbrook said the department has always been an enterprise fund. That designation ensures that taxes aren’t used to fund work on new development and that fees paid by new development remain in the department.

The Building Working Group will meet to discuss the issue on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. in the upstairs conference room at town hall.

Town council will consider the cost-cutting measures Thursday, Oct. 18 at the 6 p.m. meeting in council chambers.