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Budget woes face Miyakojima City as first anniversary approaches

Date Posted: 2006-09-22

Miyakojima City has too many employees, and is having difficulty wrestling with its budgets.

The city was created in October 2005, merging a city, two towns and three villages into a single municipality under the Trinity Reform Plan designed to curb expenses. One year into the new city operations, there are still 1,044 civil servants working, while the reform documents say Miyakojima City needs only 600. The plan proposed workers be cut over a 15-year period, with major cuts coming in the first years.

The city’s dilemma is purely financial. By law, Miyakojima City cannot force workers out of their jobs, but the city has been asking workers to retire earlier than normal. The Prefecture has warned such actions shouldn’t take place, but the city says it has no choice. It has no money.

Miyakojima City, in its 2005 account settlement, says payments have been so high for health insurance that it has no choice but to cut staff and increase taxes. Officials say it must make the changes in less than ten years, and cannot wait the recommended 15 years to accomplish changes proposed by Okinawa Prefecture.

A city official says 423 employees are coming to retirement age within 10 years, but there’s also a need to hire new workers. Money being tight though, there’s no way to hire more than 140, and officials say they need more people to retire early to create room for the new people.

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