Orange May Cut 80 City Jobs to Trim Deficit

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In a decision described by officials as painful but necessary, the City Council Tuesday tentatively agreed to cut up to 80 city jobs to help close a $10-million budget deficit.

The unanimous vote was made during a packed council meeting attended by some city employees who could lose their jobs.

Exactly how many positions will be eliminated depends on several factors, including how much state funding the city receives and the results of labor negotiations with employees.

Because some positions might be cut through attrition, officials doubted that 80 employees will actually be laid off. If it comes to layoffs, however, in most cases the city will retain workers based on seniority. The city has 712 full-time employees.

The cuts will be felt throughout the city, from libraries and parks to the Police and Fire departments.

Council members said they will carefully analyze the budget plan over the next few weeks to make sure critical city services aren't hit too hard by the cuts.

They also vowed to modify the plan if new revenue sources are found or if certain cuts are deemed not to be in the city's best long-term interest.

"Nothing is cast in concrete yet," Councilman Mike Spurgeon said.

As severe as the cuts are, City Manager Ronald L. Thompson warned that more positions might have to be eliminated if city employees don't agree to continue the Friday work furlough and if police and fire officials refuse to cut their pay by at lease 4%.

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