400 SF employees get layoff notices

December 12, 2008 6:08:26 PM PST
Nearly 400 San Francisco city workers got the bad news that they are out of jobs as of February. The action was part of a $71 million spending reduction plan that city departments and agencies were forced to submit to deal with a massive deficit.

Some city workers were left outside a crowed committee hearing room as San Francisco's ailing budget was discussed.

Inside, the message was clear: every department has to share the pain of the city's proposed budget cuts.

"Whether it's the city's workforce, new programs that we've created during the economic good times," said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

About 400 city workers will be laid off as of February. Alanda Turner is one of them. She's an employment specialist helping people get back to work.

Now she has to find a job.

"There is a recession, and at this point there are no jobs and almost no hope to go to," said Turner.

The bulk of the cuts come from the public health. The head of that department predicts this could mean only core services will be spared.

"That's going to mean that some services are not delivered, that's going to mean that people are going to wait longer for services. But I don't know any other way around that if there are less dollars," said Dr. Mitch Katz from the Department of Public Health.

The fire department laid off five civilian workers, and Chief Joanne Hayes-White announced her department will be able to meet its share of proposed cuts.

"It involves a combination of layoffs, there will be five today it also involves a combination of any vacant positions that we have will be defunded in this fiscal year and most likely in the next fiscal year of deactivated," said Chief Hayes-White.

The chief said the cuts will not impact the department's fire response or emergency medical services -- at least for this fiscal year which ends in June.

"Living here all my life you start to see an erosion of basic city services and the Board of Supervisors are ignoring city infrastructure and the fire department is a key element," said firefighter Tom Abbott.

The fire chief said no stations will close on a rotating basis in order to save money, but next fiscal year they may have to. The city has a projected shortfall of $575 million.

The president of the Board of Supervisors Aaron Peskin described it best when he said: "We have a catastrophic financial disaster."


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