LAWRENCE, Ind. - Four sanitation workers were given pink slips in Lawrence on Friday evening. The firings signal big changes in the way that the trash is collected in the city of 50,000 people.
In the City of Lawrence, the mayor's office has disposed of the entire sanitation department. Aside from the water utility, it is the only other city agency in Lawrence that generates a profit for the taxpayers.
Four sanitation workers were fired Friday and the others will be fired next week.
"They work here. They pay property taxes. They pay withholding taxes. They buy clothes and food and things at the local stores. They eat at the local restaurants. So that money is going to be gone as well," a concerned Lawrence resident said.
While making his campaign about job creation, Mayor Dean Jessup has cut Lawrence government jobs, first, by laying off 24 EMTs. In November, the city shut down Animal Care and Control after dead animals were found inside the kennel. This month, the sanitation department has become another casualty.
"To me, they just keep chipping away at the city. And I have this fear that they're trying to bankrupt Lawrence so that we'll be taken in by Indianapolis." Dave Parnell, with the Lawrence Common Council, said.
Sanitation workers, with seven to 24 years on the job, have been told that compensation for comp time, sick and vacation pay, may not be paid. For Sanitation Superintendent Dave Benslay, that's $25,000.
"Now, it’s like were being punished for being loyal to the city and our jobs. And they're not going to pay us for it. We've earned that time," Benslay said.
Later in December, sanitation giant Republic Services will replace Lawrence workers, collecting trash at more than 12,000 homes.
"These are very large public companies. Republic is nationwide. They do this for Indianapolis, they do this for Noblesville, they do this for Carmel and for central Indiana very well." Keith Johnson, the mayor’s chief of staff, said.
Republic will provide the same service and generate the same half-a-million dollar annual profit that Lawrence workers currently generate at no greater expense than the loss of nine more city jobs.
A committee of the Lawrence Common Council will take up the issue of compensation for the workers’ sick time and vacation pay on Monday night.
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