Mayor Swearengin Announces Budget Reductions to Immediately Address Short-Term Challenges, Long-term Structural Imbalance

Citing the need to immediately address short-term budget challenges as well as long-term structural imbalances, Mayor Ashley Swearengin today presented to City Council a mid-year budget revision calling for a total of $27.8 million in reductions over the next 18 months. She also cautioned that an additional $4 million to $9 million in cuts may be required in fiscal year 2011 to balance the fiscal year 2012 budget.

Mayor Swearengin said the major factors driving the need for the reductions are an $18.2 million decrease in actual and projected revenue and an $8.6 million increase in expenses projected through 2011, primarily in retirement costs. If no immediate action is taken, Mayor Swearengin said the City’s budget deficit could reach $28 million in fiscal year 2011 and could be as high as $87 million in the next five years.

The Mayor’s plan includes a staff reduction of 125 positions and a mandatory citywide 40-hour furlough for eligible employees.

“Our financial situation is challenging and our options, unfortunately, are limited,” Mayor Swearengin said. “However, the cost of doing nothing is far too great. It is imperative that we take immediate action to maintain fiscal stability through the economic downturn and in the face of increasing retirement costs. That has required us to make some extraordinarily difficult but necessary decisions.”

In addition to addressing immediate and long-term budget challenges, Mayor Swearengin said her priorities in preparing the plan were to protect core services to the greatest extent possible, minimize impact to employees to the greatest extent possible and immediately begin development of a plan to address escalating retirement costs.

The staff reductions include 104 non-sworn positions in the Fresno Police Department and 11 in the Parks, After School, Recreation and Community Services (PARCS) department. No sworn officers in the Police Department are affected.

Other reductions will occur in the City’s Call Center (three positions), Facilities Management (two), Public Works (two), Downtown and Community Revitalization (one), the Mayor/City Manager’s Office (one), and the City Attorney’s Office (one). An additional 58 vacant positions will be affected.

The staff reductions are effective Jan. 1, 2010.

The mandatory furlough will be implemented for most employees from December 24 through December 31. With the exception of those supporting critical government functions, City of Fresno offices and operations will be shut down during this period. The only exceptions to the mandatory furlough are those bargaining units that have existing contracts which prohibit layoffs or furloughs.

For eligible employees, the furlough will result in a two percent reduction in work hours. Pay deductions will be applied over a one-year period (26 pay periods) rather than as a lump sum to help minimize the financial hardship on employees and families.

Other major elements of the Mayor’s plan include:

Police Department: The department’s Records Bureau will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fire Department: The City will implement an 84-hour furlough for all sworn staff (civilian staff will be furloughed consistent with the citywide furlough) and close two fire stations – Station 10 in southeast Fresno and Station 18 in northwest Fresno. Additionally, the department will reduce its response to lower-level medical calls that are already handled by American Ambulance, a move designed to protect response times for structure fires and high-priority medical calls.

PARCS Department: All green spaces, sports fields, and concrete skate and bike parks will remain open. A new neighborhood center (the EOC gym) will open in July 2010, and six neighborhood centers will remain open and continue all current youth programs. Seven neighborhood centers will reduce their hours to senior hot meals only, and four neighborhood centers will close.

Downtown and Community Revitalization: The Office of Film and Entertainment Commission will be eliminated and the city will reduce its contract with the Economic Development Corporation Serving Fresno County by $50,000.

A special City Council will be held on Monday, Nov. 30, for necessary Council action.

A copy of the Mayor’s slide presentation is attached.

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Contact: Michael Lukens, Press Secretary 559-907-1144