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City budget cuts jobs, reorganizes divisions and trims services

City Hall will likely continue to downsize next year as it learns how to deal with a troubled economy and slow growth.

City Manager Robert Layton’s proposed budget, released this morning, trims millions in spending. It zaps 65 jobs, puts managers and other employees on furloughs and consolidates the public works and water utilities departments.

Layton said most of the cuts probably won’t impact most residents’ lives directly. But the budget increases spending for public safety efforts by nearly 8 million, though it also cuts 10 police positions, including four school resource officers who will now become beat officers.

Few things have changed since Layton first outlined his budget to the city council on June 22.

And, this year, far fewer people voiced  opinions on the budget than last year when folks came out in droves to oppose the privatization of parks mowing and cuts and consolidation in the city’s environmental services division.

The city considered privatizing custodial services this year, but it decided not to after finding ways to trim $380,000 annually during discussions with the Service Employee International Union 513.

Layton plans to add $600,000 to street maintenance, which has been declining through the years because it has been underfunded. The city has concentrated mostly on heavily-traveled arterial streets. In 2011, Layton said the city will concentrate more on residential streets, which has seen the most significant decline in quality. Layton said he wants to eventually increase streets funding from about $6 million to about $10 million.

"But we cannot do that due to our financial condition,” he said.

By far, biggest savings comes from cutting employees. That’s expected to save $6.4 million. Though many layoffs will involve eliminating positions that are vacant, Layton said other employees may have to either find new positions inside city hall or look elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Layton proposes transferring $2.5 million from the city’s long-term projects budget to its economic development fund, which has been depleted.