When the Town Council voted earlier this month to restore the former Fire District senior tax credit that lapsed when the district merged with the town, Town Manager Tom Coyle knew he would have to find $98,000 to make up the difference. On Friday, he made up $38,000 of the total by laying off Planning Department employee Julianna Berry King.
King, a planning technician with four years on the job, was the newest member of the Planning Department. She staffed the Municipal Land Trust and Affordable Housing boards and helped staff the Planning Board and Technical Review Committee. She also helped with the Main Street Association and on special projects such as Earth Day is Every Day and Schoolyard Habitat.
“She was very good. She had a good work ethic,” said Coyle Monday. He said the decision had been difficult.
“I’d been anticipating this coming. I’d been sitting down and looking at all the possibilities,” he said. “I knew I would have to come up with something. Coming up with $98,000 is a pretty tough plan.”
Coyle said the rest of the money needed to pay for the senior tax credit would come from not filling the police officer vacancy made when Stanley “Skip” Cirella was named deputy chief in July.
“Minimum manning will be met, but I’ll have one less patrolman in the ranks. Somebody’s going to have to fill in that shift, but at the end of the day, when you include benefits, it’s cheaper sometimes to pay a little bit of overtime versus hiring a person and paying for the training,” said Coyle.
He said he looked at the Planning Department with its three employees because work to update the town’s Comprehensive Plan – work completed by an outside contractor and members of the Planning Department – was finally completed.
The layoff caught town employee union president Mike Pacillo by surprise.
“It was unexpected,” Pacillo said. “The union’s reaction is that although we are not by any means happy that one of our bargaining unit positions was cut, we also realize that the town manager is within his management rights to do so.”
Town Council President Michael Isaacs declined to comment, deferring to the town manager.
Longtime land trust board member Doug Brown praised King, noting she even went to the work day at one of the land trust properties Saturday, after she was laid off.
“Juliana did a wonderful job as EG Planning Department liaison to the EG Land Trust,” said Brown. “She worked ambitiously to help coordinate numerous activities including property management, grant applications, trail maintenance and capital improvement projects. She will be greatly missed.”