Proposed city budget includes layoffs

City officials next week will introduce a budget that would slash millions in city services and leave several employees with pink slips.

City Council members have indicated support for roughly $4 million in service cuts — ranging from the elimination of all programming at Deukmejian Wilderness Park to police-sponsored athletics programs for at-risk youth — as they try to fill a projected $18-million budget gap.

With revenues remaining stagnant and employee pension and health-care costs continuing to rise, the City Council has met for months in anticipation of the staggering budget shortfall.

“It’s been a difficult year, and I suspect we’re going to have more difficult years ahead of us,” City Manager Jim Starbird said last week.

It is the fourth year in a row that the City Council has been forced to grapple with a multimillion-dollar deficit in the General Fund, which pays for basic public services like police and libraries.

While Glendale has so far been spared the unpopular layoffs or furloughs seen in agencies across the state, city officials said their time has come.

With more than 100 vacant positions already shaved from the books in recent years, this year’s budget calls for shedding dozens more — nine of which are currently filled full-time positions.

“[Human resources] will work very hard to find places for people in positions that continue to be funded. But we may, at the end of the day, have some people with a notice of layoff,” Starbird said. “We are at a point now where we can’t avoid it.”

Among the proposed cuts are several police-sponsored youth programs, which had been on the chopping block in 2009 but were eventually saved.

Glendale police have used overtime funding to staff the Student Training as Role Models and Police Activities League, dedicated to keeping at-risk youth out of trouble through sports and mentoring activities. The Explorer program accepts students age 14 to 21 to join the department and get a taste of police work.

“The cuts, we are accepting regrettably,” Mayor Laura Friedman said.

Absent from the budget chopping block are the proposed closure of the Casa Verdugo Branch Library and the conversion of the Chevy Chase Library to a community center — proposals the City Council rejected in the wake of vocal community opposition.

More than half of the cuts come from the Public Works and Community Service & Parks departments, which would see such services as the removal of litter from city’s sidewalks and swimming programs at Glendale and Crescenta Valley high schools eliminated.

Community Service & Parks-sponsored penny carnivals, summer movie screenings, concerts, the annual holiday tree lighting and other children’s events are also on the chopping block.

The City Council is also expected to adopt a slate of fee increases for public services, from pet registration to building permits, which city officials say could generate $1.3 million in additional revenue.

With millions in employee concessions also factored into the budget, some wrangling could continue past the beginning of the July 1 fiscal year as city officials continue to ask employee unions to pick up a greater share of their rising pension and health-care costs.

Glendale employees already pay a share of medical premiums and contribute between 8.5% and 11% of every paycheck to the state pension system.

The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the budget on June 21 before the final vote on June 28. The meetings will be held at 6 p.m. in City Council chambers.

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