Tampa City Council questions privitization plan

11/29/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Earlier this month, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio stunned city employees and other City Hall observers when she announced that private companies would begin handling security and janitorial services.

The mayor said she was making the move to offset the city losing revenue because of property tax reform. At the time, some City Council members expressed dismay, but today they went further, by asking the administration to explain in more detail why it’s happening and whose lives are being upended.

City Councilman John Dingfelder made the request. He said he understood Iorio’s concerns about saving money but he said the Council would ultimately have a legislative role in the process so it was appropriate to have a member of Iorio’s staff speak to the Council on the privatization plan.

City Council member Mary Mulhern said she felt the Council was entitled to hear directly from the mayor why she wants to lay off nearly 100 city workers.

Iorio said that, in addition to privatizing some services and consolidating others, the city would save more than $3-million. Iorio acknowledged that even if the laid-off employees were to get new work with private companies, they probably would not get health benefits that they currently enjoy.

City Councilman John Dingfelder said he wanted to hear from the City’s Human Resources Department specific information about these employees' situation.

Dingfelder said he has been informed that 38 people in the Janitorial Department, and 50 in Security, are scheduled to lose their jobs.

Earlier in the day the Council held a workshop on affordable housing. Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena said the issues are related.

In June, 123 full-time city employees lost their jobs after property tax reform mandated by the Legislature forced Iorio to cut $20-million from the city's budget. Fifty-six of those people found other jobs within the city.

The most recently affected employees have been told they will not be let go for another six months.

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