City manager Susan Monroe told the city’s non-uniformed employees she had some good news for them during a meeting at the Southeast Expo Center on Tuesday.

Monroe told the employees that the city will be able to make payroll today, but that will leave relatively little money in the bank.

“As of today, we will have $40,000 in the bank after we make payroll,” Monore said.

Meanwhile, the city must make bond payments totaling $600,000 by the end of October.

Monroe said she called the meeting of the city’s non-uniformed employees together so she could personally outline the city’s dire financial straits, including a need to cut the city’s budget by at least a million dollars.

The city manager told the non-uniformed employees she is going to take a comprehensive look at their benefits package.

Asked if the police and fire departments would face the same scrutiny, Monroe said they are currently working under a one-year contract, but issues will be open for new negotiations once the contracts expire.

Monroe told the non-uniformed employees they may be required to contribute from 3 to 6 percent toward their pensions. City employees currently make no contributions to their pensions, she said.

Another change being considered is no carryover of vacation time, creating a “use it or lose it” policy. The city is also looking at cutting back on the 90 days of sick leave employees can accumulate, according to Monroe.

Monroe stressed that none of the changes have yet been finalized.

She said she does not want to cut any jobs or furlough any employees and said the city needs the employees’ help in cutting costs and increasing revenue.

On another issue, Monroe said she will not tolerate any type of verbal or physical abuse of city workers by supervisors or fellow employees.

“I’m putting supervisors and employees on notice,” Monroe said. “You will treat each other with respect.” Those who can’t do that can find another place to work, she said.

Monroe said she has repealed a previous administrative ruling prohibiting city employees from contacting city council members.

“That was probably unconstitutional,” she said.

She also vowed no retaliation will be allowed against whistle-blowers or city workers who file a grievance.

Both Monroe and Mayor Don Lewis, who also attended the meeting, told employees they appreciated their efforts. They also told the employees they are “under a microscope” and McAlester residents are watching their actions.

Monroe said she wanted employees from each department to elect representatives for an Employees’ Task Force.

“Every department is going to elect an employee to give input to deal with budget issues,” Monroe said. Departments with more than 15 employees can elect two representatives, she said.

“Supervisors aren’t necessarily the best choice,” Monroe said.

Suggestions from the Employee Task Force will be considered, along with those from a group of citizens who volunteered to serve as part of the Partnership for Responsible Government.

The recommendations from both groups will be considered before final decisions are made, Monroe said.

In response to concerns mentioned by several employees, Monroe assured them that “None of the decisions have been made yet.”

Coming Wednesday more proposed changes to the charter..

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