By Heather Asiyanbi
It's no secret that the tumultuous economic climate is taking its toll on smaller communities when it comes to delivering services. Revenues from building permits have slowed to a trickle; state revenue sharing is being drastically reduced; and state statutes limiting the amount municipalities can collect from property owners mean the struggle to maintain the status quo is even more difficult.
In Sturtevant, the village board and Mark Janiuk, village administrator, are working to save money by not filling a few positions and folding those duties into other departments.
Fred Kobylinski served as the village's building inspector until last May. He made approximately $54,000 a year with $20,000 in benefits like health insurance and paid vacation. The village won't comment on the reasons behind his dismissal beyond saying that as an at-will employee, Kobylinski could be terminated without cause. For now, building inspector duties are being contracted out to the Village of Mount Pleasant on a temporary basis.
"It's unfortunate that we had to let Fred go," said Village President Steve Jansen. "And even though it is a temporary arrangement with Mount Pleasant, it could be a longer term kind of temporary given the economy."
Under the terms of the agreement, Sturtevant will only pay for the hours the Mount Pleasant inspector actually works.
"This is a considerable savings for Sturtevant and with development down so dramatically, we may not need to fill the position for a while yet," Janiuk said.
Mount Pleasant Village Administrator Mike Andreasen confirmed the arrangement.
"Our two villages work together all the time, and this is just another example of inter-governmental cooperation," he said. "We're saving money for taxpayers in both villages and still delivering a needed service."
The assistant building inspector was also let go earlier this year, saving the village about $27,000 in salary.
Roger Fryberger, former village treasurer, retired last year with a salary of about $54,000 and another $20,000 in benefits. Janiuk confirmed that this position remains vacant and there are no plans to fill it any time soon. Instead, Fryberger's responsibilities are being carried out by Janiuk, the village's accounting clerk, and Mary Hanstad, village clerk.
Additionally, Chuck Stachowski, director of public works, has been called to active duty with the Army Reserves. He leaves later this fall for a tour of Iraq and while he's gone, Janiuk and crew leaders will take over his duties. Stachowski also makes about $54,000 per year with $20,000 in benefits. Janiuk stressed that when Stachowski returns, his job will be waiting for him.
"The economy isn't doing smaller communities like ours any favors," Jansen said. "Our challenge for our residents is to make sure we deliver services they've come to expect and work to save money at the same time."
All told, it's estimated that Sturtevant will save over $200,000 in salaries and benefits through the end of 2010.
Heather Asiyanbi covers Sturtevant, Mount Pleasant and Caledonia for RacinePost. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org