Berry Global discussed by city council

Christy Howell-Hoots - [email protected]
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AUGUSTA — Employee layoffs at Berry Global, was a topic of discussion during Augusta City Council meeting on Wednesday.

Mayor Wendell High said the layoffs at Berry Global, an manufacturer with a facility in the city, are not expected to hurt the city’s budget tremendously, as he has already started working on ways to make up for the expected payroll tax loss.

According to High, although he is unsure of the exact number of employees expected to lose their jobs, he does expect the payroll tax loss to the city to fall somewhere around $65,000 per year.

“I’m sure everyone knows they’ve had a big layoff,” High said. “Until we get a number of the employees being laid off, we won’t know exact amounts on our budget. However, I’ve been working with the budget and I’ve found areas where we could make it up.”

High said those areas include the police department and the tourism department.

“We could have put in another part-time police officer,” High said. “We had also budgeted for a full-time tourism director’s salary when (Lacey Holleran) was still here.”

High said the layoffs at Berry Global are out of the city’s hands.

“The hardest part is the people who’ve been laid off,” he said. “We’re not at a time where we need to panic, but we still need to generate new income next year. The next mayor will have to find a way to tighten up and bring in more revenue.”

The Augusta facility employs approximately 330 individuals, and is part of Berry’s Health, Hygiene, and Specialties Division. The facility produces films, laminates, and adhesives for a variety of markets, according to the statement.

Berry made public its intention to buy Clopay for $475 million in November 2017. The transaction was completed in February 2018.

Although the company did not identify which product line was lost, prompting the cutbacks, it was a major supplier of diaper film to Proctor and Gamble.

Clopay first began production in Augusta in the late 1950s and at one time manufactured Hula Hoops during the height of the craze and also at one time made plastic food wrap.

The statement released by Berry indicated it would work with those affected by the layoffs.

“The Company will work diligently with those impacted to secure a position within the local community or at another Berry facility,” according to the statement.

Also during the meeting, High said he is still working to get started on the city swimming pool.

“We’re hoping to have it started by October,” he said.

Other items discussed at the meeting included:

— The second reading of the motor vehicle tax. The tax has remained the same for several years at .185 cents per $100 of assessed value.

— Announcement of a public hearing on the property tax rates. The hearing will be held Thursday at the Clooney Community Center at 6:30 p.m.

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Christy Howell-Hoots

[email protected]