Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/19/2012 09:02:37 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – Department heads including the police and fire chiefs gave their approval to a budget including significant cuts Monday, though the City Council delayed a decision until the following Monday.

The plan – to be presented to U.S. bankruptcy court as its “pendency plan” and serve as a financial plan for fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14 if passed – aims to erase a $45.8 million deficit through a combination of cuts and deferred payments.

While previous cuts the council has approved since announcing its intention to file for bankruptcy involved several rounds of delays and piecemeal changes, several council members said they do intend to pass this plan soon.

“There is a lot to digest here,” said Councilwoman Wendy McCammack. “I don’t think there’s any intention of picking it apart line by line, but I think that since it is the course we’re charting for the next couple of years that we (should) consider it seriously.”

Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury told city officials at the last bankruptcy hearing that they needed to file a document by Nov. 30 that should incorporate ideas from the plan.

City officials and consultant Michael Busch outlined the cuts in a 12-page plan council members received last week, in contrast to earlier documents of close to 100 pages.

The elimination of positions for 18 officers who’ve left since summer – when an earlier plan eliminated positions that were vacant at that time – may look drastic on paper, but it reflects current staffing levels, said Police Chief Robert Handy. That would leave the department with 260 sworn officers, in addition to unsworn positions such as police dispatchers.

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