Carson City Council to city manager: We’ll decide who you hire
Carson City Manager Ken Farfsing clashed with the City Council this week over whether the cash-strapped community has any money to fix deteriorating streets and other infrastructure.
When he insisted Tuesday that funds don’t exist for such work in the city’s decimated budget, council members suggested his hiring priorities might be skewed. And, as a result, they directed the city manager to get their approval before advertising any open jobs.
Additionally, in a further slap at Farfsing’s role as the executive who makes all employment decisions, the city’s elected leaders want labor unions to weigh in on hiring priorities.
Council members said Carson needs employees who can address infrastructure concerns.
“People are saying the sidewalks are filthy,” Councilman Cedric Hicks said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “So, there’s certain positions that should be filled. We keep hollering about our streets, our roads, the trees, the sidewalks and the curbs. But who’s doing the work if they are not being hired?”
But the real problem, Farfsing has said, is that the city needs a dramatic influx of new revenue just to maintain its current services.
“The city’s had eight deficit budgets in the last 11 years,” Farfsing wrote in a report to council members on the issue. “The city has lost 22 percent of its workforce since 2012, for a total of 74 employees in the last six years. Staff is increasingly called upon to do more with less.”
Finance Director Kathryn Downs said it costs about $8 million a year just to maintain the current quality of city roadways. But only $1.7 million is budgeted for pavement resurfacing — an indication that roads will continue to deteriorate.
The vast majority of the city’s budget is consumed by employee salaries and public-safety costs.
Farfsing has repeatedly cautioned that the city will be bankrupt by 2020 without a major intervention, such as a tax increase or the sale of city properties. General fund costs are increasing by nearly 4 percent a year but revenue is rising by less than 2 percent.
The city is currently interviewing for seven openings: assistant city manager, equipment service worker, parking control officer, civil engineer, code enforcement officer, accountant and administrative specialist.