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Council lays off building inspector

The Rosemount City Council voted to lay off a member of its community development staff Tuesday night. Todd Sutter, who has worked for the city for more than seven years, lost his job due to the decision.

A slowdown in the housing market led to the layoff. City administrator Dwight Johnson said there is an imbalance between staffing and workload. Construction-related work has been down for several years in the community development department.

The city is on pace to have fewer than 100 new housing permits in 2010. The city had just 88 new residential units last year, down from 237 in 2008 and 143 in 2007. Until now the department had kept employees busy with big projects such an update of the city's comprehensive plan, but with those projects done the department doesn't always have enough going on to keep everyone busy.

In April community development director Kim Lindquist offered employees in the department an opportunity to take a voluntary reduction in hours to avoid making layoffs. And while people did volunteer, it wasn't enough, said Johnson.

"At the end of the process we didn't have enough participation to avoid this decision," said Johnson.

The city had asked that employees reduce their work schedule by either four or eight hours a week. Several employees offered to reduce their schedules by two hours, which Lindquist said was not part of the agreement.

The council voted in favor of the layoff of the city's least senior building inspector and a memorandum of understanding stating that employees who take voluntary hour reductions will keep their benefits. Johnson said even with the layoff some employees may be asked to take voluntary reductions in hours.

Although it wasn't a public hearing mayor Bill Droste did allow comments before making the decision. John Kendall, a city inspector and AFSCME 3857 president, asked the council to postpone its decision to let the employees to make another offer.

Chris Cowen, a union representative, also asked the council to delay their decision so that other possible avenues could be explored.

Despite the request the council moved forward with its motion with a 4-0 vote. Council member Kim Shoe-Corrigan was absent.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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