Tonight, more than a dozen employees of the Punta Gorda Town council may be without any means of providing for their families after being laid off. The workers were informed last week that they were dismissed due to financial constraints. Reporter Vejea Alvarez has the story.
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: On Friday, fourteen employees of the Punta Gorda Town council reported to work for the last time. That’s because the workers were provided with termination letters stating that their services were no longer needed. PG Mayor, Charles Selgado, says that the mass firing came after a decision was made by the town council to downsize its staff.
Charles Selgado, Mayor of Punta Gorda: “During the week we had a council meeting first of all and the council had made a drastic decision to cut staff you know because Mr.Mahung we are going into some depression there at the council right now. The council finds it very hard to be paying salaries and wages every pay day.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: And, that strenuous situation according to Selgado led the council to seek guidance from the Ministry of Local Government in late last year. He says that ministry had advised the council to cut fifty percent of its 60 employees; but, after careful deliberation that number was reduced.
Charles Selgado, Mayor of Punta Gorda: “We hung on and we hung on and finally we had to break lose because recently we sent out a lot of tax bills and the people of Punta Gorda Town for some reason or the other they are not coming in to pay their taxes and so we find it very hard to meet our obligations there at the council.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Another factor that forced the council’s hand to downsize its staff, according to Selgado, were the mountains of debt left behind by the previous town administration.
Charles Selgado, Mayor of Punta Gorda: “We found so many bills there for example the Social Security bills that the previous council had deducted from these people’s pay they were not paid into the Social Security and so the Social Security is demanding that we make those deposits. So what have we done? We have spoken to our people there at the ministry and they gave us subvention, every month yes but they deduct this money from our subvention automatically every month. So they cut our subvention to facilitate this arrears that Social Security had.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: While Selgado didn’t speak on the selection process that was used to hand-picked those who were laid off he says that he can assure the public that politics were not at play.
Charles Selgado, Mayor of Punta Gorda: “This is not a political victimization. This should have been done from last year like what I said earlier and if it was a political victimization everybody would have gone from the day we got in there so it is not. And I can tell you something that some of the people who are still there in the office they are not from our political party either but we do not want to make politics get mixed up in our administration and so yes we had to do it.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: The staff members that lost their jobs were from the administrative, traffic, and sanitation departments. Selgado added that he pleading with residents who owe the council to pay up to prevent any further terminations of cut backs. Reporting for Love News I am Vejea Alvarez.