City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

June 12, 2012
Sacramento council to debate public safety layoffs; mayor urging pension reform

As the Sacramento City Council prepares to debate laying off dozens of police officers and firefighters tonight, Mayor Kevin Johnson is again urging for those workers to make pension concessions.

Meanwhile, city officials said the number of public safety workers slated to lose their jobs has gone down slightly, after several officers left voluntarily in recent days and weeks, creating vacancies in the police and fire departments.

As of today, 44 firefighters would be laid off and 19 police officers would be out of work if the council approves a budget plan tonight aimed at filling a $15.7 million deficit. Those numbers do not include a few dozen vacant positions that would also be cut.

Johnson said he was "still hopeful" the layoffs could be avoided. The council is scheduled to hear an update this afternoon on negotiations between the unions and city labor negotiators.

City Manager John Shirey has recommended the layoffs if cops and firefighters to not agree to make the entire employee contribution toward their pensions.

"I'm typically not in favor of making cuts to police and fire, but we are in a very difficult situation because if we can't get pension reform, we are going to have to make some cuts," the mayor said.

Since running for office in 2008, Johnson has said he wanted two police officers for every 1,000 city residents. If the proposed cuts go through, that ratio would be around 1.3 officers per 1,000 residents - among the lowest ratios of any big city in the nation.

"I'd like to inch up toward the two per 1,000 and we need a very aggressive strategy," the mayor said. "But right now in a down economy, we just have to stop the bleeding at this point."

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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 rlillis@sacbee.com

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