VIDEO: Knives readied as Valley cities slash services

FRESNO AND STOCKTON
March 5, 2010 4:51am
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•  Fresno and Stockton looking multi-million dollars deficits

•  ‘Police and fire – that’s where we’re looking at the largest reductions’

Ashley Swearengin

Look for deep cuts in the services offered by two of the Central Valley’s largest cities – Fresno and Stockton – as they try to plug projected deficits of $26.9 million and $14 million respectively.

Fresno Budget Director Renena Smith says the city continues to experience declines in revenue as well as increases in expenses. As a result, the city now expects to have $209.5 million available in its General Fund in fiscal year 2011. A fully-funded budget at current operations would be $236.4 million.

Stockton is facing “significant reductions” in its workforce for the fiscal year that starts July 1, says Mayor Ann Johnston.

Those reductions are expected to cut the number of police department and fire department employees.

Click the play button to watch:

“Because the bulk [of the budget] is made up of public safety – police and fire – that’s where we’re looking at the largest reductions,” she says.

Fresno has identified about $8 million in citywide operational revenue and expense adjustments and also is addressing the budget gap through department-specific reductions, it says.

In addition, Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s administration has presented Council with white papers on four potential cost-saving measures that are being investigated for the fiscal year 2011 budget:

• An employee retirement incentive program, which would provide cash incentives to encourage eligible employees to retire on or before a date certain.

The goal of the program is to minimize layoffs and subsequent unemployment insurance increases that occur when employees are laid off.

• Switching the city’s commercial solid waste collection services to private service providers. Under the proposal, the City would no longer offer solid waste services for businesses but instead would franchise the operations to private venders. The money collected from the fee would then be available to the general fund.

• Outsourcing and/or partnering with others for park and median island maintenance activities. The goal of the effort is to determine if the quality and cost of these services can be improved by contracting with local landscaping companies to maintain parks, median islands, and other green spaces located within designated landscape areas.

• Developing partnerships with community-based organizations for operation of the city’s community centers.

“Some of the options being researched, while not new, will represent a substantial change in our current operations,” says Interim City Manager Bruce Rudd. “Given the dire nature of the economic situation facing the city now and the foreseeable future, it would be irresponsible … to ignore these potentially viable cost-saving measures.”

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