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ROWLETT Rowlett's mayor says he is deeply troubled by the city's decision to cut positions that will put four people out of work.

Mayor John Harper said it was a decision made not by the City Council, but by the city manager alone.

Rowlett City Council members were supposed to talk about ways to make up next year's budget shortfall on March 19, but that meeting was canceled after City Manager Lynda Humble decided on her own to eliminate five positions.

If we're going to reduce five people, it seems to me that ought to be a decision that is actually voted on by the Council, said Mayor John Harper, who spoke to News 8 by phone from Washington, where he's on city business.

Harper said he would have preferred furlough days to trim the budget not layoffs. Look, I don't want to impact five employees and their families uncesessarily, and I think causing them to be the source of funds to balance the budget is just wrong, the mayor said. There are other options, but we are not discussing them

Assistant City Manager Brian Funderburk defended the city manager's decision. We needed permanent cuts, he said. Furloughs are usually temporary things.

Funderburk said Humble has the authority to make operational decisions for the city without approval from the Council. We wanted to give these individuals as much time as possible to find another job, he said. We realize this economy is tough.

But Mayor Harper feels there should have been more discussion. It's deeply troubling to me that this Council is accepting the direction of the city manager without adequate dialog and adequate debate, he said.

All four city employees who will be terminated are at least 50 years old.

Mayor Harper said he and Council members were elected to make decisions for Rowlett and should have at least discussed the job cuts.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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