YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Six full-time employees and two part-time workers were laid off from Mill Creek Park on Friday.
The park administrator said the layoffs are part of an “internal restructuring.” He said those layoffs are needed if the park is going to stay in operation.
“Contrary to popular belief and reporting, there were not mass firings. What we met with today was the full timers. A lot of the full timers, not all, were offered another position within the MetroParks or severance,” said Mill Creek MetroParks Executive Director Aaron Young.
The employees will have a few days to decide if they want to take the other positions they were offered or leave the park.
Most of the people laid off on Friday were classified as middle management.
Young would not comment on who had been laid off. He did say the positions were cut because they no longer fit the park’s plan for the future.
Mill Creek Park Board President John Ragan, who officially started his position with the park board on Monday, said the board approved the plan for the internal restructure, and Young decided how he wanted the positions reorganized over the course of the last year.
During the parks’ levy campaign last year, officials said the levy would bring in enough money to sustain MetroParks operations, but the organization would have to become more organized and efficient.
Ragan said he believes this was a way to more efficient and better stewards of the tax dollars.
“We had $20 million worth of capital improvements that needed to be done, and that new levy brought in $7 million. So with these unfortunate cuts, we were able to save $13 million over 15 years,” he said.
Ragan called the decision one of the hardest that the board has had to make, due to the people involved. Although he just began his president position, Ragan has been on the board for six years.
Looking into the future, Ragan said it was either the layoffs or going back to the taxpayers for more money.
“Best of a worst case scenario, I would think,” he said.