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City of Breckenridge lays off employees to meet budget

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BRECKENRIDGE, Texas - The city of Breckenridge has laid off six employees.

According to city officials, the cuts had to be made to meet next year's budget.

The cutbacks affected city employee Shawn Pitchford first hand.

"I just got demoted down to being a foreman," Pitchford said. "I was a supervisor over the street, the water and the wastewater."

The demotion means a $2.80 an hour pay cut, but he's not complaining. Five other full-time city employees and one part-time employee were laid off.

"It's kind of hard right now to find a job around here, so I'm just thankful I still have one," Pitchford said.

"You know if the numbers don't work out you've got to do something," Breckenridge City Manager Andy McCuistion said. "Any business does that."

McCuistion said low oil prices took a big chunk out of their sales tax revenue. So, to meet next year's budget he's asking the city commission to raise the property tax rate from $.94 to $1.04 per $100 valuation on a property. He's also adjusting transfers to city funds and laying off those six employees.

"It was not easy to do that," McCuistion said. "We value our staff, and we try to treat them well and give them good benefits."

They're hoping the now full lakes around Breckeridge will bring in some tourism tax revenue and help prevent more cutbacks.

"Hopefully people will start coming and more money will come in where people can get their jobs back," Pitchford said.

McCuistion said those full-time employees who were laid off were offered severance packages including three months pay and six months paid insurance.

The Breckenridge City Commission is expected to vote on that property tax rate increase sometime next month.

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