When the city made cuts in August to offset a projected $13 million shortfall, it looked like about 35 employees could be laid off.
It now looks like as few as seven people may be forced out.
Most other employees have found work elsewhere in City Hall — often for a lower wage.
But in a city that has been pounded by layoffs in all sectors, the revised figures are a thin silver lining for city officials who haven't dealt with the prospect of widespread layoffs in decades.
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"This is better than what I thought," City Manager Robert Layton said. "It's close to what I had hoped."
Many possible layoffs were saved when the city agreed to keep some parks maintenance workers on staff instead of replacing them all with out-sourced mowing contracts.
The budget council members approved in August cut 100.5 positions. But many positions had already been held open, leaving some room for employees in cut jobs to go.
Layton said 11 employees have turned down offers to work elsewhere in City Hall, but 42 accepted.
Of those, 22 saw no change in pay, 16 had a 2.25 percent reduction or less, four took a 15 percent or more pay cut — two of those went from full time to part time, according to Sarah Gilbert, director of human resources.
There was no clear trend of people moving from one department to another.
Seven other workers face layoffs, but Gilbert said the city is trying to find places for them.
"We did not expect that we would be able to match so many people," she said. "We were concerned there'd be a lot more people on the list who would lose their jobs."
Meanwhile, the city is holding wages down — leading to tense negotiations with labor unions.
The SEIU 513 union, which represents many public works and parks employees, accepted a one-year contract earlier this month that provides no cost-of-living increase.
It allows workers up to 2.5 percent merit-based increases if the employees aren't already at the top of the pay scale for their position.
Police, fire and airport Teamsters are still negotiating their contracts.
Doug Pickard, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 135, said the city is adamant about not giving raises while it spends money on other things, such as a consultant to develop a downtown revitalization plan.
"They're throwing money at everybody but us," he said. "It's hard to believe they're broke."
The city is looking for one-year contracts, which means it doesn't have to commit to increases during the uncertain year ahead, Pickard said.
"I keep hoping for some good faith," he said.
Gilbert declined to discuss union negotiations.
Sgt. Chester Pinkston, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5, said he couldn't discuss contract negotiations in detail.
But he said the union hired an outside auditor to examine the city's finances.
"We're hopeful that the city will understand what the priorities of the city are," he said. "We hope that amidst their current spending spree, they're prioritizing that correctly."
The city also raised court fees, water rates and penalties paid by homeowners who have false security alarms. It sought to cut City Council member travel.
Though there are fewer layoffs than expected, many positions have been eliminated.
"I hate it that anyone loses their job, but sometimes there are times we've grown government bigger than it should be," said council member Jeff Longwell.
He declined to discuss contract negotiations, but defended how the council prioritizes spending.
"For someone to say that we float money out there for a variety of different things that have nothing to do with public safety and disregard public safety would not be accurate," Longwell said.
He noted the city added three new fire stations and more firefighters, and has discussed adding a fifth police bureau and more officers in the future.
"We know we still have a tough road ahead," he said. "We just encourage people to take a positive approach and understand that we're all in this together."