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City Council votes to delay layoffs for 30 days

February 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A thousand jobs are on the line as the city of Los Angeles struggles to find ways to close a budget shortfall adding up to more than $218 million. But now talk of cutting police and fire jobs in order to save other positions has been shelved. The City Council voted to wait 30 days before any layoffs can occur. The Council will work in the interim to see if they can find vacancies that haven't been filled for those who would be laid off.

In the meantime, the city fire and police departments were in for some possible layoffs, but they're going to wait until a high-level commission decides how much money can be saved.

The City Council chambers were filled to capacity and beyond with people who might be affected by the massive cuts: 1,000 to 1,500 employees, and departments eliminated, from Cultural Affairs to Disabilities.

"Our commission represents probably the most vulnerable population, not only in the city, but in the nation," said David Wolfe, L.A. City Disability Commissioner.

The Council faced recommendations that would lay off police and fire department employees.

"There are only two ways of balancing the budget and getting ourselves into structural balance, and that is to raise revenue or to reduce payroll," said L.A. City Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller.

There is a $208-million deficit that will grow to $1 billion in a few years.

City employees are already being furloughed and agreeing to salary freezes.

"How much more sacrifice do we need to ask our workers to engage in to maintain an overall work force that is clearly unsustainable?" asked Miguel Santana, L.A. City Chief Administrative Officer.

There were not enough votes to implement the layoff right now.

The Council's goal is to transfer threatened employees to non-general fund vacancies. Existing vacancies would ideally be substituted for 1,000 layoffs. Police and fire department cuts would be delayed for 30 days while a commission looks at alternative savings. The recommendation is new police hires or academy classes, and redeploying 57 firefighter positions, and to cancel three fire department training classes and to eliminate 117 firefighter positions.

"Many of us were of the impression that we were going to be asked to vote on that today, to vote on adversely affecting the lives of not just 1,000 people, but 1,000 families," said L.A. City Councilman Herb Wesson.

Almost everything has been delayed, but they're hoping to reduce the number of needed layoffs to several hundred by the time they're through, and they hope to meet every day next week.