Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/24/2012 09:16:19 PM PDT
SAN BERNARDINO – With more than 100 layoffs already authorized and more cuts necessary to erase what started as a $45.8 million deficit, no one knows how much the city still needs to cut from its budget.
“It’s a process that requires a continual evaluation,” said Acting Assistant City Manager Gwendolyn Waters. “Down to the penny, it’s impossible to know at any time.”
The plan is to cut heavily, then let the dust settle and see how much more still needs to be cut, Waters said.
But that leaves the danger of cutting badly needed jobs or services, then finding out there was still money available, Councilwoman Wendy McCammack said.
“All we’ve received up to this point is ballpark, but ballpark numbers may mean more people lose their jobs than necessary,” she said. “And I’m not willing to go down that road until we know as close to reality as possible.”
In other words, McCammack said, she won’t support any more cuts until she has more accurate information.
But every day cuts aren’t made, the deficit deepens.
Waters said she wasn’t sure how much that daily increase was, but it’s calculated by taking the remaining deficit divided by the days until the fiscal year ends in June.
The prependency plan the council approved Sept. 5 called for $22.4 million in cuts and another $9.4 million in labor negotiations and other actions – only some of which have begun – which would leave a general fund deficit of $7.1 million.
But the council modified that plan in a number of ways, including putting off a recommended $3.5 million cut to the Fire Department.
And some actions that were approved haven’t been made yet, such as layoffs that were delayed because of a civil-service policy that gives laid-off employees the right to take the job of lower-ranked employees if they meet the job’s qualifications.
“For instance, in the Police Department, we issued layoffs (to non-sworn employees), but we had to start at the very highest level to allow them to bump lower employees, then go from there,” said Waters, who is also a police captain. “The whole process is going to take months and months.”
In August, the council shortened the time employees have to decide whether they will exercise these so-called bumping rights to two days.
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