City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

April 26, 2012
More than 100 public safety workers laid off in Sacramento budget plan

The city of Sacramento is proposing to lay off roughly 62 firefighters and 45 police personnel to address a budget situation that is among the most dire the city has ever faced.

The public safety layoffs are part of a plan to address a $15.7 million deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1 in the city's general fund, the portion of the budget that pays for most basic services. The cuts also include hits to parks maintenance and recreation programs.

"This is not the budget I had hoped to recommend to address next year's structural deficit," City Manager John Shirey said.

Shirey said he is attempting to work with the city's labor unions "to find solutions that would avoid the need for the elimination of positions and consequently programs and services to our community."

The focus of that effort is likely to be pension benefits. If unions agree to have their employees contribute the entire employee share of their CalPERS benefits, officials said the city could avoid layoffs.

The city picks up most or all of the employee share - in addition to an employer share - for nearly all city workers. Doing away with that arrangement would save the city $13.5 million this year, budget officials said.

Some unions have expressed interest in agreeing to pick up the entire employee share.

The firefighter union appears willing to sit down with the city.

"We've made it clear that we're always willing to sit down and talk about how we can help the citizens of the city and what is the right thing to do," fire union spokesman Todd Filbrun told me. "Obviously how we move forward is going to take some time to process and formulate."

The police union said it is engaged in "off the record" conversations with city budget officials and would continue those talks.

"We are willing to sit and listen to any conversation that the city wants to have," said the union's acting president, Dustin Smith.

The proposed hits to public safety are the worst the city has seen, even after the City Council voted to lay off dozens of cops last year.

The firefighter layoffs would require the department to decrease the number of personnel on most rigs, from four to three. The fire union has argued that change would increase the time it would take for fire units to begin tackling emergencies.

The city has addressed cumulative deficits of $219 million since 2007, cutting about 1,200 positions - not all through layoffs - and slashing many services.

Falling sales and property tax revenue has played a big role in the cycle. Property tax collections are down $24.3 million since 2009 and sales tax coffers are down $8.7 million since 2007.

The cycle is expected to continue at least another year; budget officials project a deficit of $7.4 million next year.

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


Does the Kings' poor performance of late impact the arena work?

Ryan Lillis on Twitter

Follow "Ryan_Lillis" on Twitter

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Sacramento City Resources

City Web Sites

How to contact city officials