Council Takes Action on Mid Year Budget Reductions 

Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s plan to address a potential $27.8 million budget shortfall over the next 18 months moved forward tonight following a lengthy City Council meeting. The Council’s actions allow the administration to proceed with plans to reduce the City’s workforce, implement furloughs and take other measures to trim expenses throughout the organization.

While the City Council voted against proposals to close two fire stations and to eliminate a position in the City Attorney’s office focused on graffiti prosecutions, the major elements of the Mayor’s mid-year budget reduction proposals can be put into effect as scheduled. The reductions are needed to address short term budget challenges as well as long term structural imbalances. Mayor Swearengin cautioned that additional reductions will be needed in future years.

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.

Mayor Swearengin said her priorities in developing 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. Under the plan, 125 staff positions are being eliminated and all eligible employees will participate in a mandatory 40-hour furlough. 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), and the Mayor/City Manager’s Office (one). An additional 58 vacant positions will be affected. The staff reductions are effective December 31, 2009

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.

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).

• 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.