Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Should Rockville eliminate long-vacant government positions?
Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and Feinberg's Council colleagues strongly disagreed with her proposal that they discuss the possibility. "We need to stay in our lane," Newton said, referring to the City's Council-Manager form of government, which gives the City Manager purview over personnel. Councilmembers Mark Pierzchala, Julie Palakovich Carr and Virginia Onley agreed with Newton.
Feinberg stressed that no current City employee would face a salary cut or termination, as all of the positions are currently empty. Newton suggested that the vacancies may not be as clear-cut as they appear, and might not remain vacant far into the future. On the code enforcement position Feinberg cited, Newton noted that the shortage of such City inspectors has been to blame for delayed restaurant openings in Rockville Town Square.
Acting City Manager Craig Simoneau backed up her line of argument later in the discussion. He said one of the positions became vacant because that employee was on a military deployment overseas. Another is in the process of being filled. And Simoneau hinted that he might well fill some of those vacancies, and put those new employees to work where current staff are most-overtaxed.
With no support for her targeted proposal, Feinberg then asked for $300,000 in general cost savings to be found in personnel. She noted that in her years of government experience, she has not found government departments to be willing to voluntarily eliminate chronically-vacant positions. Simoneau candidly acknowledged that he would not seek to eliminate these positions at this time.