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FRAMINGHAM – The City of Framingham is beginning layoffs of municipal employees, due to the coronavirus pandemic, starting today, May 14.

On April 30, Mayor Yvonne Spicer submitted a $301 million budget for the fiscal year that starts on July 1. That budget was $4.5 million increase.

Several City Councilors have been critical of the budget proposed by the Mayor for fiscal year 2021, and the proposed budget increase during a pandemic.

On Tuesday night, the Mayor told members of the City Council Finance Subcommittee she was not looking at layoffs or furloughs and would be reviewing her budget for a possible reduction to re-submit next week.

Today, May 14, at least two DPW employees received notification letters from the city.

SOURCE reached out to the Mayor for comment on those letters the Mayor signed.

“Regarding your request for more information regarding municipal employees, I have no information for you now. I will get back to you tomorrow afternoon,” said the mayor’s spokesperson and City of Framingham Public Information Officer Kelly McFalls responding to the request.

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“The City is anticipating a serious shortfall in revenues in the coming fiscal year which the City will be unable to address without reducing salary expenditures. Some employees outside of your bargaining unit are going to be laid off and/or placed on a furlough in the coming weeks and months. Certain vacant positions will not be filled while the funding shortage continues. While it is too early to determine exactly how many will be involved, I anticipate that additional unpaid furloughs and/or layoffs will be required for the City to address the combined current lack of work and likely lack of funds to continue to operate with the current level of services,” wrote Mayor Spicer to union leadership on Tuesday night, May 12, after she met with the City Council’s Finance Subcommittee.

The employees who were laid off today, were told not to come back to work tomorrow, in a letter signed by Mayor Spicer.

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“During the 14-day period following your receipt of this letter until your effective layoff, you will receive paid administrative leave status and you should not report to work in any capacity,” wrote the Mayor to employees laid off.

SOURCE has learned the City of Framingham department heads were asked to come up with a list of employees who could be laid off or furloughed.

“After a long and difficult conversation, between and among the city division heads, my staff, and I will notify your union that your position is being eliminated, effective in 14 days, pursuant to the term’s of your union collective bargaining agreement with the city, along with several other union positions, and City positions outside of your union,” wrote Mayor Spicer in one of the letters to the laid off DPW employee.

The Mayor ended her layoff letter “this is a very difficult decision for all of us to make but is an unfortunate reality for the city, and many other employers, both in government and the private sector at this time. I wish you continued good health and safety as we continue to navigate these challenging times.”

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The Mayor alerted union leadership of the potential layoffs/furloughs on Tuesday night, after 9 p.m.

The City has a hiring freeze for some positions now and for fiscal year 2021, which starts on July 1.

“As you may know, the spread of the COVID-19 virus has impacted nearly every facet of the daily experience of the residents and businesses of the City of Framingham, and the impact on our City government and our dedicated employees is no exception. The COVID-19 crisis and its resulting community impacts have necessitated various actions by the City of Framingham directly affecting the day-to-day responsibilities of
your unit members, including the closure of certain City facilities, cancellation of programming and reduction of the size of crews to ensure social distancing is being observed in the City’s provision of services to the public. The situation has been and continues to be fluid and subject to change on short notice. Presently, the continuing emergency has led to a lack of enough work to fill the regularly scheduled work periods
for your unit members,” wrote the Mayor.

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The Mayor told the City Council’s finance subcommittee that she plans not to hire a Chief Diversity Officer for the City in FY21, due to the pandemic.

The 11-member City Council approved the new position last summer, but the Mayor and Human Resources Director Dolores Hamilton have yet to hire someone for the position Mayor Spicer described as a “critical need’ In June 2019.

The Mayor told union leadership she is “optimistic that together we will overcome this crisis and continue the tradition of excellent public service that your members and the many other City employees provide to our community.”

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.