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City may cut 28 jobs

Community Development Dept. is first on the block, others may follow.

March 14, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Twenty-eight city jobs may be on the chopping block as the result of the state diverting millions of redevelopment dollars from city coffers.

For now, those cuts are focused on the Community Development Dept. And as painful as those potential layoffs may be, that’s just the beginning, said City Manager Scott Ochoa during a meeting Tuesday at City Hall. When officials hammer out next fiscal year’s budget in April, other departments, such as police and community services and parks, also could suffer.

“All of our departments are in this particular struggle together,” Ochoa said.

Neighboring Pasadena and Burbank also have been facing financial shortfalls since losing redevelopment. Last week, Burbank officials discussed eliminating three already-vacant positions, but have yet to announce other possible cuts. Last month, Pasadena announced it may lay off 14 employees, some connected to redevelopment and planning.

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On Feb. 1, a state law axed all redevelopment agencies in California to use most of their property tax revenues to fill a state budget deficit.

Cutting 28 jobs will save Glendale about $3 million, but redevelopment paid for about $6.6 million in salaries, benefits, maintenance and operations, according to a city report. Officials expect to reap about $2.5 million in redevelopment revenues next year, but that still leaves a $1.1-million deficit.

The hope is that over the next three fiscal years, that projected deficit will dissolve through employee attrition. But the calculations don’t include possible funding cuts that could affect community events such as Cruise Night.

The Community Development Department includes code enforcement, planning and housing. The layoffs would mostly affect those who work directly with economic development and neighborhood services.

The goal is to have the fewest possible layoffs, with some people reassigned to other departments that need to fill vacant positions, Ochoa said. Staffing decisions will come as the city sets its fiscal-year 2012-13 budget in the coming months.

Last year, city departments fought for resources as the City Council struggled to bridge an $18-million budget gap. Those battles may be repeated as the city’s General Fund, which pays for most public services like police and libraries, could have to absorb the redevelopment losses.

It’s still unclear whether the city can get back tens of millions of dollars that it loaned decades ago to its redevelopment agency, Ochoa said.

In addition, Glendale needs to augment its liability and workers compensation funds, which could diminish the remaining money pool, he said.

“We’ve gone through all the fat and the meat and we’re down to the bone,” Ochoa said.

State lawmakers have been crafting bills that could give cities like Glendale some reprieve, but City Council members did not express optimism.

“We should plan for the worst-case scenario,” Mayor Laura Friedman said.

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