Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 08/21/2010 10:34:05 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – The Police and Fire departments will shrink if the City Council approves the full menu of new budget-cutting proposals.

The new proposals would reduce funding for almost all city departments. They follow the council’s rejection of multiple tax hikes and city managers’ expectations that concessions talks with city unions will fail to produce as much savings as anticipated.

San Bernardino’s department chiefs were ordered to prepare cuts that would shave 8 percent from their budgets. City Manager Charles McNeely’s request for council action frames San Bernardino’s current fiscal situation as a do-or-die moment.

“In order to bring the city budget into balance, either additional revenues need to be generated or expenditures need to be reduced,” McNeely’s report reads.

“If neither of these actions is taken starting this fiscal year, the city will be out of funding and will not be able to operate and pay for any services to the community,” the message continues.

City administrators’ report to the council shows that top administrators are working under a “worst case” scenario in which recession-battered tax revenues do not begin to increase from current levels until the 2014-15 budget year.

The new list of cuts, released late Friday, add up to a projected $11.2million in savings through June 2012. If the council ratifies each spending reduction, more than two-thirds of the cuts would come from the Police and Fire departments.

Police and fire protection account for roughly 70 percent of San Bernardino’s general fund spending.

Proposed cuts would trim the police budget by about $5 million. The recommendations include deleting 25 vacant police officer positions while converting six of those jobs into civilian community service officer posts.

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