Monica Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Created: 05/20/2010 09:49:14 PM PDT

POMONA – The city is closing a more than $14 million budget gap but to do so it will need to carry out massive cuts, including employee layoffs.

City administrators presented a preliminary budget Wednesday night to City Council members that has a balanced general fund, but calls for laying off 54 employees.

Layoff notices are expected to start being handed out Monday, said Mark Gluba, assistant to the city manager.

The city has a $78.3 million budget and has closed a $14.2 million deficit with a combination of cuts to services and personnel.

Among the hardest hit departments are the Public Library, Community Services and police.

The Police Department proposed making $2.7 million in cuts that would include laying off 15 sworn personnel. One of those positions will soon become vacant since the person has resigned, Police Chief Dave Keetle said.

The number of sworn personnel has been shrinking as a result of not replacing personnel when they retire or leave.

Two years ago, the department had 200 sworn officers, but 167 will be left by the end of the current fiscal year, Keetle said.

By the time 15 officers are laid off, the Police Department will have 152 officers, which will put the department at the level it was in 1998, he said.

Mayor Elliott Rothman said considering the city’s crime problems, he could not support such cuts.

“We’re losing personnel on the ground,” he said.

Another police area to be affected will be crime prevention, which is responsible for programs such a Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch and Red Ribbon Week.

Councilwoman Paula Lantz said at a time when the number of police officers is being reduced, the need for community programs increases.

“With fewer police officers and fewer community centers more responsibility falls on neighborhoods,” Lantz said.

“I see (civilian community service officers) as an integral part of keeping the community together.”

Community Services is proposing a series of changes that includes closing half of its 12 community centers and offering after-school and summer activities at the remaining sites.

The plan is to have one community center offering activities in each district, said Greg Shapton, city library and community services director.

Various youth and family programs would be cut, including Strengthening Families, which is designed to create better communication between children and parents.

Staff support would be cut on citywide events such as the annual beautification day and community and school fairs.

Councilwoman Cristina Carrizosa said losing programs and services offered by the Community Services Department will have an impact on the city’s youth.

After-school programs offered at the various community centers are popular with young people and serve to keep them away from negative activities, Carrizosa said.

“Closing community centers is shooting ourselves in the foot,” she said.

Shapton said proposing such cuts was difficult for him as it was for his colleagues.

“It pains me greatly to present the budget,” he said. “All of the cuts represent tremendous cuts in services.”

Plans call for reducing library hours to 24 per week and eliminating some positions and reducing others from full-time to part-time.

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