IPD lays off three

Published 9:41 am Thursday, May 10, 2012

When it meets this evening, Ironton City Council is likely to discuss the layoffs at the Ironton Police Department.

On Tuesday, city officials handed notices to officers Chad Artrip and Jamie Pruitt, advising them they would be laid off effective Wednesday; officer Grover Carter agreed to a layoff as well, even though he has seniority within the department.

Mayor Rich Blankenship said one public works employee, Mark Weber, has also taken a voluntary layoff.

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One firefighter, Larry Pernestti, accepted a position in another city. Fire Chief Tom Runyon said no one else in his department had been laid off as of Wednesday morning.

“I anticipate if things don’t change there will be layoffs,” Runyon said.

Police Chief Jim Carey said the layoffs leave him with a total of 13 officers — that includes him and two detectives and only 10 road officers.

“This is probably the lowest (number of officers on the roster) the city has had in 25, 30 years,” Carey said. He said to fill one shift he will have to rely on overtime and he may have to lose one detective out of the investigations unit to cover the holes caused by the layoffs.

Carey said without these officers, the city will stop handling car accidents on private property and stop handling some minor misdemeanor crimes. Carey said while he laments losing the officers, he also laments the reduction in services that comes on the heels of the pink slips.

“We’ll just try to do the best with what we’ve got,” Carey said.

Sgt. Pam Neal Wagner, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Local 75, described Wednesday as “a black day around here.” She questioned why emergency services are being cut at a time when, to her knowledge, no administrators are being laid off.

“This is very disappointing,” she said.

Mayor Rich Blankenship said he is unhappy about the layoffs as well but the city council has given him a budget and he has to make it work.

“It’s very unfortunate we have to do this,” Blankenship said. “But the budget doesn’t allow for us to fund those officers (positions).”

In March, all city public works, police officers and firefighters were notified there could be layoffs in the future given the city’s budget constraints.

Meanwhile the city and all three unions that represent police, fire and public works continue to negotiate new contracts.

A 5 p.m. finance committee meeting will precede the 6 p.m. full council meeting today.