Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/17/2012 07:30:39 PM PDT
SAN BERNARDINO – City government has already seen at least 14 people retire or resign in the week since it authorized bankruptcy proceedings, according to a spokeswoman for the City Manager’s Office.
The pace – far more than on a typical week – reflects employees’ legitimate concern over coming changes and likely layoffs, said Acting Assistant City Manager Gwendolyn Waters.
“While yes, it hurts us to lose valued employees and tenured employees we have to respect our employees’ right to do what’s best for them and their family,” Waters said. “If they think the best thing to do is resign, we have to be supportive of that, especially with the very likely reality that we’re going to be laying people off.”
Lowering the number of employees creates some medium-term relief on the city’s payroll, but it also sharpens a cash crunch: Employees must be paid for accrued vacation time, sick leave and other benefits they’ve sometimes built up over years of service, draining cash on hand that in some days has dipped as low as $150,000.
Finance Director Jason Simpson said Monday the city had about $9 million, but much of that was locked up in restricted funds, and officials still fear they won’t be able to make the Aug. 15 payroll.
That’s caused a lot of anxiety and confusion, employees said.
“We don’t know what it means for us,” said library assistant Andrea Zuniga. “It’d be one thing if we knew, but we don’t.”
Interim Library Director Deborah Clark has kept in contact with her staff, but there hasn’t been much to say, said circulation manager Debra Bemben.
“Will there be layoffs? Where will there be layoffs, and how many? How will our work change?” Bemben asked, saying library staff has been cut to one-third of what it was in 2008.
” We have a lot of support from patrons and people like Friends of the Library, but we need to be here. We are not a non-essential. We are essential.”
Workers from several divisions said they had been told not to speak to the media on the record, but others were quick to say they were concerned about what the future would hold for them and for the city.
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