Mayor Reed wants to stop gov't borrowing

May 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The state's problems trickle straight downhill to the local level and many Bay Area cities are struggling as a result. San Jose is facing a budget deficit of nearly $80 million and the city's unions will be asked to help.

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"I've heard the message loud and clear," says Mayor Chuck Reed.

There's no misunderstanding San Jose's $78 million budget deficit. On Thursday, the city's mayor made public safety priority number one, but in order to bridge the double-digit short fall, Mayor Reed wants the city's 10 unions to help.

"It will require a little sharing of the pain for everybody in order to preserve jobs and services," says Mayor Reed.

He wants the unions to take to a wage freeze. The building inspectors union agreed to that request and a 10 percent pay cut which saved five jobs.

"I remember being the new guy on the totem pole and I think you need to step up to the plate and do whatever you can to help save your friends' jobs," says Tom Brim, a building inspectors union representative.

If the other nine unions follow suit, it could save the city $12 million.

"I'm sure there's other items that can be cut, and yes we are concerned that it is on our backs," says Patrick Skillsky with the city labor alliance.

Skillsky represents the city's unions and says members will agree to wage freezes, if the city can guarantee job security.

"If we can help we will, but we just want some sort of guarantee that if we give the help, it's going to go to the people we're giving up for," says Skillsky.

Mayor Reed is promising to protect and preserve some services. He also says he will not lay off firefighters or police officers. He also wants to keep community centers open and restore library hours.

"The more we have open the better off the kids are to brighten their future and play," says parent Lino Costillo.

Priorities could change if the state takes $20 million of San Jose's money to cover its budget shortfall. However, Mayor Reed promises to put up a fight to keep that from happening. He is not taking it lightly and wants the state to balance its own budget and not take from local city governments, especially when they're having their own problems.

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