by Bay City News on May 04, 2011
To close a $115 million deficit, City Manager Debra Figone released a proposed budget late Monday evening that would eliminate 588 positions and make cuts in police and firefighter positions as well cutting back in library and community center hours.
The city anticipates that roughly 370 city workers would be laid off, while an additional 446 would be moved to different positions, some even moving to lower-paying positions.
“As you can see we’re facing a very, very difficult budget situation right now,” said Tom Manheim, a spokesman for the city manager’s office. “These are very broad impacts, on not just the employees, but the community as well.”
Manheim said roughly half of the deficit is a result of pension costs. He said another component is that the city is still recovering from the recession.
“The revenues we depend on are just not returning,” he said.
To balance the budget, the city is once again asking employees to take a 10 percent cut in total compensation and to agree to roll back their salaries to last year’s level.
The city has reached an agreement with five bargaining units and is asking for the remaining groups to agree to the concessions in order to avoid further layoffs and service reductions.
The proposals would affect employees across all departments. In the Police Department, the proposal calls for the elimination of 195 sworn police positions, the elimination of the school liaison program, the suspension of the helicopter program, which would save the department about $400,000 annually, and the potential outsourcing of police services at Mineta San Jose International Airport.
Even prior to concessions, the department faces roughly 122 layoffs and nearly 20 demotions, police Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.
“With the contraction of the department, we are going to have to modify our business practices and basically look at prioritizing and finding out what we’re going to focus on as far as resources and where they’re going to come from,” Dwyer said.
He said most of those resources would be dedicated to patrol officers and investigations of violent crimes.
“We are still going to work property crimes, but the amount of resources are not going to be high as they used to be,” Dwyer said. “They’ll be realigned to keep the city safe.”
In the fire department, about 64 positions would be eliminated, staffing on fire trucks would be reduced from five to four, and fire services at the airport would potentially be outsourced.
Tom Saggau, a spokesman for the firefighters union, San Jose Firefighters Local 230, said this year firefighters are not as impacted as in previous years.
The union has reached an agreement on a contract through June 2013, agreeing to a 10 percent total compensation cut, a 5 percent increase in medical insurance, and a reduction in staffing.
“I think we’re looking at potentially as a result of our concessions between five and 15 layoffs, whereas (other departments) are looking at hundreds of layoffs,” Saggau said.
The proposal calls for the elimination of nearly 72 library positions, and a reduction in hours to three days a week, as well as reduced services at the Martin Luther King Jr. branch.
Hours at all 10 of the city’s community centers would be reduced, and 182 positions in the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services department would be eliminated.
The proposal calls for reductions in the park ranger program and the outsourcing of park restroom custodial services and landscape maintenance at small parks, as well as the outsourcing of graffiti abatement services.
Community-based organizations would receive reduced funding.
Prior to the adoption of the final budget on June 21, the City Council will hold public hearings on May 17 and June 13.