Thirteen employees — three full time and 10 part-time — at the Lithgow Public Library in Augusta will be laid off as the city adjusts to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

AUGUSTA — More layoffs are coming to city government in Augusta.

Some city employees have already been laid off and dozens more will be by May 27, as Augusta officials make cuts to make up for a shortfall in revenues and increases in spending related to the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 15 full-time and 17 permanent part-time employees are being laid off, for a total of 32 city workers facing layoffs by the end of May. Some temporary part-time workers have already been laid off.

City facilities that are largely closed to the public due to the pandemic are facing most of the layoffs, including the Augusta Civic Center, where most public events have been canceled, and the closed Lithgow Public Library and child care bureau at Buker Community Center.

City Manager William Bridgeo explained the layoffs and their necessity Wednesday in a memorandum to city councilors.

“We are blessed with a wonderful, dedicated workforce,” he wrote, “and the steps being taken to be financially responsible are painful ones.”


Two furlough days — one May 18 and the other in late June — for nearly all city employees are also planned before the fiscal year ends June 30,

Susan Robertson, human resources director and assistant city manager, said city most departments would likely close on the furlough days.

Bridgeo estimated the two furlough days would save about $50,000. He said his proposed budget for next year, which he is expected to release Friday to city councilors, also includes furlough days.

Bridgeo said the cuts are necessary due to a series of revenue shortfalls and increased expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Revenue shortfalls, compared to what was budgeted, are expected to include more than $550,000 in excise taxes paid on vehicles, $200,000 in property taxes and nearly $300,000 from the Augusta Civic Center.

Bridgeo said increased expenditures attributable to the pandemic include cost overruns of about $141,000 for public safety and $136,000 in general assistance, some of which might be reimbursed by the state or federal government.


The layoffs include a part-time and eight full-time workers at the Augusta Civic Center; three full-time and 10 part-time employees at the Lithgow Public Library; a full-time and a part-time parking enforcement officer with the Augusta Police Department; a full-time and four part-time care bureau workers; and one of the city’s three code enforcement officers.

The code enforcement position has also been cut from next year’s proposed budget due to a drop off in work demand, meaning that layoff is expected to be permanent.

Many of the laid-off workers will be offered jobs with the city’s parks maintenance department, which normally hires 20 full-time seasonal workers to maintain cemeteries, parks and other outdoor facilities.

This season, the city will only hire 10 seasonal workers for the parks, and those jobs will first be offered to city employees facing layoff from other departments, including Civic Center maintenance and full-time kitchen staff employees.

Joe Piccone, a business agent for Teamsters Local 340, which represents Civic Center and some general government employees in Augusta, said city officials have been upfront about what he agreed is a difficult situation. He said all Teamsters members working full time for the city had been offered jobs with the parks department, three of whom have accepted the jobs.

“Augusta officials have been transparent,” Piccone said. “I believe they’re trying to reduce the effects here of being laid off in a pandemic. All our members were offered other work, to be paid whatever their rate of pay is now.”


Piccone said he hoped the city would commit to paying a share of the workers’ health insurance benefit costs, noting that losing a job — and the health insurance that came with it — would be a double hit for employees being laid off.

A sign outside of Augusta City Center on Thursday explains that the building is closed to the public until June 1.

Robertson said she expects the laid-off workers to be eligible for unemployment compensation, though that would need to come from a state unemployment system already swamped by workers out of work due to the coronavirus.

Bridgeo and Robertson said the laid-off employees will hopefully be brought back when things return to normal. The laid-off workers who are represented by labor unions have recall provisions in their contracts, requiring the city to rehire them if their positions are filled within 18 months.

“Ideally,” Piccone said, “the expectation for all our workers is they’ll all get rehired.”

Robertson said when employees could be brought back depends on when closed-down city services, such as the public library and Civic Center, can safely restart. For example, she said the city will evaluate whether to reopen the child care department as people start to go back to work and the need for that service increases.

Piccone said few Maine municipalities have laid off workers so far due to coronavirus pandemic, although some, including Portland, South Portland and Westbrook, have furloughed some employees.


Not all workers in the impacted city departments in Augusta are being laid off. At Lithgow Library, the director, youth services librarian and systems librarian will continue to work. Bridgeo said they will offer “a robust array of online library services to the community.”

Four full-time employees will remain at the Augusta Civic Center to secure and maintain the facility, provide external food service, support activities that continue to take place at the facility and maintain relationships with customers.

Four full-time employees will remain at the Civic Center: the director, assistant director, facilities operations director and food and beverage manager.

Bridgeo said they will secure and maintain the facility, provide external food service as needed and support activities that continue to take place in the building, including a regularly scheduled American Red Cross blood drive. They will also schedule future bookings and maintain relationships with customers.

Bridgeo said Augusta’s plan for dealing with its financial issues includes not filling vacant positions. Those include five heavy equipment operators and truck drivers in the Public Works Department, a police patrol officer and a clerk in the City Clerk’s Bureau.

The city, however, will continue to seek to fill the vacant city clerk’s position. Bridgeo said he hoped to hire an experienced candidate before the presidential election in November.

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