Vallejo approves plan to avoid bankruptcy

March 4, 2008 7:58:44 PM PST
The Vallejo City Council approved an emergency measure to avoid plunging the city of 120,000 people into bankruptcy. The city's police and firefighters' unions must now decide whether to approve it. However, some are questioning whether the agreement is actually a good deal for Vallejo.

By approving a last-minute deal with its police and fire unions, the Vallejo City Council may have fought off bankruptcy for now -- but for how long?

City council member Joanne Schivley voted against the agreement, which immediately cuts police and fire salaries by 6.5 percent and takes away a 1.5 percent salary increase owed them since last July.

"It's just another band-aid, and that's how we've operated for many years, band-aids on top of band-aids," says Joanne Schivley with the Vallejo City Council.

The deal must still be approved by Vallejo's police officers and firefighters, who started voting on it in meetings today.

"We will also be reducing our minimum staffing from 28 to 22, which means we'll be closing two firehouses," says Kurt Henke, Vallejo Firefighters Union.

The two firehouses amount to one quarter of Vallejo's total of eight. They will close at 8 a.m. Thursday morning. One of those, in North Vallejo, is the city's newest, built just seven years ago.

There will be cutbacks in the police services too.

"For example, our narcotics units, our street suppression units, school resources positions, community services positions -- they're all having to be re-assessed," says Richard Nichelman with the Vallejo Police Department.

City leaders have 45 days to develop a long-term plan to offset a deficit that could balloon to $14 million dollars by next year.