Oceanside looks to cut $7 million from city budget

OCEANSIDE — City Council took a look at proposed budget cuts for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 on Sept. 30 to halt city budget shortfalls, which have already reached more than $5 million and are predicted to increase to more than $9 million by 2011.
The target is to reduce city-operating costs by $7 million and to tap into some of the available $14.5 million in “healthy city” reserve funds to balance the budget.
“Nobody wanted to think about an economic downturn, but it happened,” Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said.
Reductions in city personnel; maintenance and operations; and services are being considered. Key reductions under consideration include cutting the deputy city manager position down to part time, closing the Adelante Bookmobile and San Luis Rey Resource Center, eliminating seven public works positions, 10 development services positions and 12 nonsworn police positions, unfunding four police officer positions, and restructuring the finance department to reduce personnel.
Reductions will not come without consequences. Antoinett Epps is a nonsworn community service officer who has served Oceanside since 2004. She is just eight months away from becoming a vested officer and now faces the possibility of being laid off. Epps is not only concerned about her future, but also the safety of citizens if three community service officers are cut. “You’re going to have an officer taking a paper report when he needs to take care of someone who is being shot, raped or stabbed,” Epps said.
Service agreements with KOCT Television, North County Humane Society, Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, California Welcome Center and the Boys & Girls Club of Oceanside are now on the chopping block and will be looked at for possible reduction in city funds.
In order to save employee positions, early retirement has been offered to qualifying city employees and 12 retirements are under consideration. City Council members’ discretionary budgets may also be reduced as a cost-saving measure.
“We are going to meet and confer again with the bargaining units and should they offer any concessions in regards to personnel, wages or benefits that certainly will be reflected in what we bring back Oct. 21,” Peter Weiss, the city manager, said. “We may be able to have some of the bargaining units look at alternative reductions that will save some positions.”
See video from this meeting at coastnewsgroup.com.

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