City balances budget after layoffs, cutbacks
Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Created: 06/21/2012 08:45:57 PM PDT

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – The City Council on Thursday approved a balanced budget plan for the new fiscal year at a special meeting Thursday night.

The city budget proposal involves a number of program cutbacks, including reduced library hours, while officials plan increased spending to reclassify three fire investigator positions to “captain specialists.”

The position upgrades, according to Fire Chief Mike Bell, will cost the city about $15,000 in the 2012-13 fiscal year. Despite the additional cost, Bell and supporting council members said the move would lead to efficiencies in fire district service, which would ultimately lead to savings for city coffers.

Councilman Bill Alexander, who provided the lone vote against the proposed fire district budget because of the enhancement, called the move inappropriate in a time of belt-tightening from other departments. Alexander said his position is based strictly on fairness and budgetary concerns.

“I have no problem with the rest of our fire department budget,” Alexander said. “Know that when I vote no, it’s in reflection to the item that’s listed for the new positions when other people are doing triple the work for other agencies in our community — and they are.”

The approved general fund budget is at $63 million, up $311,000 from last fiscal year. The approved fire district budget is at $26 million, or $664,870 more than last year. The approved library budget is at about $4 million, or $49,000 more than last fiscal year.

The elimination of the city’s Redevelopment Agency, part of Sacramento’s dissolution of more than 400 redevelopment agencies earlier this year, resulted in a city general fund shortfall of about $4.2 million. In order to help close the new city deficit, city officials laid off 19 employees in April, reassigned 10 positions, and eliminated 11 vacant positions.

They’ve also proposed service cutbacks and program for this fiscal year. The measures were taken without the use of the city’s general fund reserve, which stands at $13 million.

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