City counts on $3M in cuts

Budget that’s being turned in will assume concessions from employees.

May 11, 2010|By Melanie Hicken

CITY HALL — City officials on Monday said the new budget this summer will factor in $3 million in employee salary and benefits concessions, even if a deal with the unions isn’t struck in time.

City Manager Jim Starbird said the concessions — a major component of a plan to balance a projected $8.1-million shortfall without further cuts to city services — could be included in the proposed budget in June even if negotiations remain ongoing.

The City Council is legally required to adopt a balanced budget by July 1, but Starbird said the figures could change after the deadline.


“We’ll have to see how things unfold . . . after July 1 comes and goes, we will still be paying a lot of attention to the budget,” he said.

The strategy places significant pressure on the employee unions to come through with concessions as they continue to negotiate with city officials. Without the savings, the City Council would be forced to reopen the budget and consider further cuts to public services.

“I’m hopeful that the police officers and other employee groups will see the need and the urgency for cooperative efforts by all parties to develop a budget that will get us through the next fiscal year,” Mayor Ara Najarian said Monday.

The most significant concession could come from the Glendale Police Officers’ Assn., which last year declined to reopen its four-year contract and forgo two years of scheduled 6% cost-of-living increases. Representatives for the union have declined to comment on the issue.

City officials are also asking the three other employee groups, all of which did not receive pay increases last year, to pick up a larger share of the rising costs for retirement and health plans.

Jay Kreitz, president of the Glendale Managers’ Assn., has pushed for any concession to be spread evenly among all city employees.

“We just want to make sure it is fair among all of the associations,” he said.

With city officials relying heavily on employee concessions to balance the General Fund, which pays for basic public services like police and libraries, the majority of four budget meetings held so far have focused on other operations.

Last year, City Hall was on edge for months as the City Council labored through line item by line item for funding cuts as high as 7.5% at some departments. City executives this year have prepared lists that reflect deeper cuts to the General Fund, but Starbird has said he views those as worst-case scenarios.

In addition to employee concessions, city officials have proposed diverting sales tax revenue away from capital improvement projects and into the General Fund. “I’m very hopeful that we will have a budget that will reduce the expenditures to meet the revenues with as little impact as possible on the residents,” Najarian said.

One-hundred vacant positions have been shed in the past two years, as the City Council has been forced to accommodate dwindling property and sales tax revenues.

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