Fresno to lay off dozens to balance budget

FRESNO, Calif.

There are three main parts to the mayor's mid-year plan to balance the budget. It would require the city to consolidate and lay off dozens of its employees.

Meanwhile the police department and its officers are saving the city a lot of money through concessions.

Mayor Ashley Swearengin told the city council Thursday she plans to go on the offensive when it comes to handling the city's ten million dollar budget shortfall. "That's why it's so important for us to be as aggressive as possible. As soon as we know there's a shortfall we've got to make cuts. If we don't make them now than it turns into larger shortfalls later." said Swearengin.

The first $3 million comes from department consolidation and other citywide adjustments. In all up to 40 positions could be cut,mostly from Code Enforcement.

Mayor Swearengin says the economy is forcing her to change the city's approach. "We're looking at a completely different strategy to hopefully improve our effectiveness with code enforcement but do with fewer resources. And we're seeing this approach used in other cities and we're looking to implement it here in Fresno." added Swearengin.

Another $3.7 million will come from department reductions including the mayor and city manager's offices. Half of that will come from the police department.

While no officers will be laid off, Chief Jerry Dyer says overtime hours will be cut short. "What that means is we're not able to do any proactive operations. When there is a certain series or trend that occurs, we're not able to do that on an overtime basis. We have to flex hours and utilize resources and shift resources. It just makes it that much more difficult." said Dyer.

The final three million will come from the Fresno Police Officers Association. President Jacky Parks says they've already agreed to the concessions by giving back their uniform allowance and deferring holiday pay over the next year. But the mayor is asking for more and Parks says they're hesitant to offer up anything else until they see something in return.

"We're taking this step by step. Rather than just jump in with your whole body in the pool. We're kind of hanging our feet over the side end of the pool and just gradually going in." said Parks.

There will be public workshops to discuss the budget starting next week at city hall. The council will then vote on the budget plans next month.

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