NEWPORT BEACH : City to Lay Off 7 to Balance Budget

The City Council this week approved a plan to lay off seven employees while eliminating 33 positions in an effort to close a $3-million budget shortfall.

The seven employees, who were informed last month that their jobs were targeted, will leave in May. Some other employees whose jobs were targeted chose early retirement, and the remainder of the 33 positions are otherwise vacant.

Officials said the cuts were the only way of balancing the city's books without making massive cuts in city services or raising taxes. They said the budget shortfall was created by the sluggish economy coupled with decreases in state funding.

The plan was approved on a 6-1 vote.

Councilman Phil Sansone opposed the measure. He said the city could have saved $3 million by not giving managers and other city employees raises.

"What concerns me is when you take people away, the services are reduced," Sansone said.

The cuts bring to 86 the number of city positions that have been eliminated over the past four years. The total represents 11.3% of the city's former work force. Sansone said these reductions have been felt in slower response times by some city departments.

The latest rounds of cuts will affect many sectors of the city, from the police and fire departments to the planning and building sections. The city also plans to reduce its capital improvement and maintenance budgets in an effort to cut costs, said Dennis Danner, the finance director.

The council will examine a 1994-95 general fund budget, expected to top $59 million, in May.

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