125 City Workers to be Laid Off in Budget Cuts

November 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
After seven hours of debate the Fresno City Council decided to move ahead with a majority of the cuts recommended by Mayor Ashley Swearengin. The cuts will help close a $28 million dollar budget gap.125 city workers will be laid off, including police dispatchers and community service officers. Most keeping their jobs will be forced to take five furlough days without pay. But the city council didn't agree with everything in the mayor's plan.

City Council members voted 14 times during the grueling meeting. They decided that by and large cuts recommended by Mayor Ashley Swearengin were ones that needed to be made in order to close the gap.

Monday the first wave of layoff notices were sent out.

"Hey we have fought this long and hard and I have to take offense that I got a budget staff and I got departments out there that have busted their tail for the last 18 months to do everything they could to keep this from happening," said Fresno City Manager Andy Souza.

The heated exchanges showed the frustration both city leaders and council members had in coming to terms with the tough decisions that had to be made Monday night.

Fresno City Council President Cynthia Sterling said, "To be at this point today. I'm think it's just very, very disheartening. I'm not pointing a finger or anyone in particular. I'm just saying that this is just sickening for me to be in this position."

Although Fire Chief Randy Bruegman recommended the mayor close two fire stations to make the necessary cuts, council members voted to keep the stations open for now.

"We're still going to take two companies out of service throughout the system or within the system and furlough the firefighting personnel," said Bruegman.

"It's not the best decision for public safety. I think it makes people feel better that a fire station may be open but in terms of fire response times, it's not the best decision."

Despite much debate, layoffs could not be put off for the police department. The police chief said the cuts will impact the citizens of Fresno least even though they will have some ripple effect.

"It's a very painful process, for all of us. For the administration, for the council, and the people that were probably going through the most pain were the employees impacted by this," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Originally the council was only approving four resolutions, but they voted 10 additional times on different motions that came up relating to the resolutions.

The S.P.C.A. cuts were also approved, cutting $100,000 dollars. It's just the first round of three rounds of cuts.

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