Town departments stretched by state budget woes

By SHERIDAN CYR

STAFF WRITER

A number of town departments in Southington are feeling the effects of the uncertain state budget. The library, police and fire departments recently had a number of long-term employees retire, and due to close monitoring of the town’s budget, they are unable to hire replacements at this time.

“This is directly attributed to a lack of state budget,” said Town Manager Garry Brumback. “There are dire circumstances under it. We don’t want to hire new staff if we may just need to lay them off shortly once the budget is passed.”

Brumback explained that the Town of Southington is only hiring critical positions at this time. Over the summer, the library lost two significant members of their staff, Jeanne Chmielewski and Carla Sheehan, both of which had over 25 years of service. This loss is equivalent to 12 percent of their staff.

“I do recognize the library is impacted by this, but it just doesn’t make any sense to hire right now unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Brumback said.

Executive library director Sue Smayda reported the library is facing difficult times with the loss of Chmielewski and Sheehan. Other staff members are being stretched in effort to cover the extra work.

“We totally understand that the state is in a crisis situation with the budget,” said Smayda. “We are doing the best we can with what we have.”

Human Resource Generalist Theresa Buchanan echoed Brumback’s response.

“The town is experiencing a significant shortfall of dollars,” said Buchanan. “We are only able to hire positions that are critical to the operations of Southington. Once we do have a budget, we’ll have a much more realistic view of the situation.”

Buchanan said between the fire and police departments, five members have recently retired, as well. Their seats remain unfilled at this time. The highway department was effected, too. They usually hire temps to help out in the summer time, but this year, were limited to just keep their core staff.

“We are doing what any responsible organization would do at this time,” said Buchanan.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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