Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/29/2013 07:39:24 PM PST

Special Section: San Bernardino

SAN BERNARDINO – Relations between the city and its employees are strained, most of those involved in Monday’s decision to impose cuts on several unions said Tuesday, but they see no viable choice.

“I think the choice was between keeping the city afloat while keeping as many public safety personnel on the streets versus the alternative – that’s what those positions basically come down to,” said Councilwoman Wendy McCammack, who for years has been a close ally of employee groups but recently has taken several votes opposed by the police and fire unions.

“We’re not going to make everyone happy,” McCammack said. “We have a moral and an intellectual responsibility to put the taxpayers first while doing everything in our power to make sure employees want to work here.”

The cuts to police include requiring they pay 50percent of the cost to the California Public Employee Retirement System – amounting to a 13.989percent pay cut – have taken a heavy toll on already battered relationships, according to Steve Turner, president of the police union.

“(Morale is) horrible, and members are feeling like the city has taken a stance that the employees are not important,” Turner said.

Money should be cut from other parts of the budget, Turner said, noting the number of police has fallen from 350 to fewer than 260 because officers are looking for other jobs and not being replaced.

But he didn’t have any specific suggestions on how else to balance what was a $45.8million deficit before cuts began, and nearly two-thirds of the city’s General Fund comes from salaries and benefits.

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