Norwich - The City Council opposed a plan Monday to restore two positions cut from the Human Services Department during budget deliberations, despite a petition signed by more than 600 residents who supported the restoration of the jobs.
The council voted 4-3 against restoring an account clerk position cut Sept. 30 and a social worker position scheduled to be eliminated March 30, 2014. The account clerk oversaw numerous grants the department receives along with serving as the main receptionist.
The council's plan called for taking the $63,184 needed for the positions in this year's budget from the contingency account. Mayor Peter Nystrom, Aldermen Sofee Noblick, H. Tucker Braddock and Charles Jaskiewicz opposed restoring the positions. Nystrom and Noblick argued that the budget once set should remain intact.
Braddock and Jaskiewicz objected to taking the money from the contingency account, which is meant for emergencies and unexpected expenditures.
Beverly Goulet, director of Human Services was disappointed in the vote.
"This is going to have a significant impact, certainly, on the people we serve," Goulet said.
Alderwoman Deberey Hinchey, who is running for mayor, supported restoring the positions. Hinchey said the people who signed the petition deserve to be heard as well as those who opposed restoring the positions. She said she was "impressed" so many people rallied to support the department.
Aldermen Francois "Pete" Desaulniers and Mark Bettencourt also voted to restore the positions. Desaulniers called the last-minute cut made in June "a learning experience," and the council didn't look at the entire impact the cuts would have in various departments.
Bettencourt said he didn't support the cuts during the budget vote and supported restoring the positions. He too said the council didn't consider all the impacts. For example, the Human Services Department accountant displaced an employee in the assessor's office, bringing an inexperienced person to that department at a time when the city is conducting a revaluation of city property values.