Hundreds of San Jose city employees face layoffs

March 29, 2010 6:38:55 PM PDT
The city of San Jose has been warning of big job cuts to close its budget deficit. Monday, the city manager came out with the numbers.

San Jose faces a $116 million deficit unless it gets major pay and benefit concessions from its 11 employee bargaining units. Otherwise, City Manager Debra Figone says 878 positions will be eliminated.

Among the biggest cuts are 160 officers in the police department, 86 firefighters, 110 positions at the city's libraries, 117 jobs in the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department and 40 employees in the Department of Transportation.

"At this stage, we are assuming that this is worst-case and things would improve if we do receive concessions from our bargaining units," Figone said.

The city has asked for a 10 percent cut in pay and benefits to prevent layoffs.

The San Jose Police Officers Association president says the layoffs are unreasonable, putting staffing at 1988 levels while the city has grown.

The president of San Jose Firefighters Local 230 says losing five engine companies and one truck company would lead to losses of lives and property and put the public at greater risk.

A San Jose resident agreed, pointing to the Santana Row fire eight years ago. It was called a "once in 100 years" incident.

"When we have a situation like that, we may not be prepared for such incidents," Bryan Do said. "Or we have a big earthquake, because firefighters do more than fight fires, they're first responders for emergencies, so we're at huge risk."

The 2011 budget needs to be finalized by June.

A San Jose real estate developer says the city needs to tighten its belt in the same way as the private sector.

"They should take note from big business, actually; these are extraordinary times, unfortunately, and they need to be thinking that way," David Taxin said.

The city manager held a roundtable meeting with employee groups Monday morning in search of ideas and suggestions how to solve the budget crisis.

This is the ninth year in a row that San Jose has faced a shortfall.


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