The City of Meadville’s long-time City Building at the corner of Water and Arch streets is still open for business.

The move, once planned for the Labor Day weekend, would have relocated the city’s administrative offices to a storefront in the Kepler Building on Market Street and the police department into its new headquarters on Diamond Park — but it has been postponed until late October.

Anyone entering the City Building to do business with the city, police department or Meadville Area District Justice William Chisholm, however, will quickly notice that preparations for the move are already under way. Display cases that once housed collections of city artifacts have been removed, for example, and walls throughout the first-floor lobby area are now bare.

When the City Building opens for business this morning, however, the staff will be smaller than it was a week ago. The positions held by Deb Berasi, administrative assistant to City Manager Joe Chriest; Deputy Treasurer Liz Vinch; and Jean Rawson, who worked part-time in the city’s wage and tax office, have been eliminated. As part of the city’s effort to trim costs, Berasi and Vinch have opted to retire; when a change in state law eliminated the city’s role in collecting the wage tax, Rawson remained on the job until the transition was complete.

“As we cut staff, calls fom the public still come in,” City Manager Joe Chriest said Friday. “The work we do for (Meadville City) Council still needs to be done. We’re asking people to be patient — years and years of institutional knowledge is going to be gone and there’s nobody to pick up some of those functions.”

As for the long-term effect of the cuts, “There’s going to be a level of service change, possibly,” Chriest said. “We’re going to have to be more realistic in our time estimates for preparing things for council. There are day-to-day operations that need to go on, but some things just won’t be done.”

Chriest recommends e-mail as the preferred method of communication with his office. To avoid possible delays, Chriest and Assistant City Manager Andy Walker will both monitor a newly established e-mail address: citymanager@cityofmeadville.org.

The city’s move to its new City Hall was postponed after Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, the building’s new tenant, offered to delay the beginning of the makeover into the company’s new corporate headquarters until the end of October to give the city a bit more time to complete its transition. The offer was gratefully accepted in mid-August.

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at mspicer@meadvilletribune.com.

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