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City staff talks cuts and dollars Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Oct 23 2010 12:00 PM

Chula Vista residents attended the first of two public budget overview sessions Wednesday night at City Hall to review the budget reduction plan presented by city staff at the Oct. 5 City Council meeting. The meetings are being held for residents of east and west Chula Vista to participate in discussing solutions to the City's $12.5 budget gap.

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox said Proposition H, the city's telecommunication's users' tax, would secure approximately $6 million if passed.

However, if Prop. H does not pass, the city would face an $18.5 budget shortfall beginning July 1, 2011, including 150 layoffs and public service cuts.

In addition, all five unions must agree to pension reform to alleviate the budget gap to have no layoffs or public service cuts.

City Manager Jim Sandoval's budget plan calls for five city employee union groups to agree to pension reform, including no further salary raises, making a contributing of eight to nine percent of their CalPERS retirement, and second tier CalPERS retirement and health plans for new hires.

According to Sandoval and Cox, if employees agree to pay their retirement contribution and forgo future contract raises beginning January 2011, the budget deficit will be reduced significantly and avoid employee layoffs. However, if no agreement is made cuts will be significant.

Residents who attended the meeting voiced their concerns regarding the elimination of the Norman Park Senior Center, cuts to the libraries, fire and police departments.

According to Sandoval, staff looks at cutting services that the city loses the most money on. Norman Park Senior Center is on the first tier of cuts.

Cox said city staff does not want to cut anything.

"This isn't about us closing Norman Park Senior Center, this is about us finding a way to keep the revenues coming," Cox said. "We are not deaf to you."

In previous cuts, 259 positions were eliminated and, according to the city's finance director Maria Kachadoorian, the city is anticipating cutting another 91 positions.

Currently, 72 full-time employees have received lay-off notices and 41 others have been notified of demotions.

Another budget overview session is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27, at the Montevalle Community Center, 840 Duncan Ranch Road.

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