Fresno Council to consider revoking lay-off orders

FRESNO, Calif.

Critics of the plan to lay off code enforcement officers say the city's budget situation has improved and layoffs are not needed. Code enforcement officers are now called Community Revitalization Officers. There are about 35 of them who keep tabs on substandard rental housing and try to keep the city clean and safe.

The city administration cut ten positions two years ago, and has recently cut ten more. But the city council is being asked to keep the workers on the job.

Critics of the cut say Fresno's problem with unsafe housing, abandoned buildings and garbage could get worse if there are fewer code enforcement officers on patrol.

"This isn't just about running around writing tickets for cars parked on the lawn, this really does impact how people live, it affects property values," Dee Barnes said.

Dee Barnes heads the union representing the Community Service Officers whose jobs are being targeted as part of the city's budget cutting measures.

City Council Member Sal Quintero is bringing the matter before his colleagues.

"I'm hoping the rest of the council does see the need to retain our code enforcement folks. The layoffs there have been a lot of layoffs in that department," Quintero said.

City Manager Mark Scott sent out a letter last week calling for the termination of ten positions. Scott said the administration was simply implementing the budget cuts already approved by a majority of the council. But Council Member Lee Brand, who was among those who favored the cuts last month, now says they could be reconsidered.

"I've talked to enough people now there are definitely two sides to the story and if there is in fact the money there and there is a need for these people then we should examine that."

Brand says a surge in property tax revenue has improved the city's budget. He's suggesting that it's possible the code enforcement officers could be moved to other departments, where the city is actually hiring.

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