With 24 layoffs, 22 “golden handshakes” to veteran employees and the freezing of 16 other positions, the city has cut its budget from $144 million for this fiscal year to about $135.35 million for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which starts July 1.
Downey’s full-time workforce will be reduced from 430 to 368.
The City Council is scheduled to discuss and approve the budget at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
In general, residents will see public safety departments with older equipment, a slight increase in fees and a city that has much less power to influence development.
While the city is calling the budget balanced, documents state that the proposed spending accounts for $3 million in concessions that are yet to be negotiated with employee unions. The budget also makes optimistic predictions about the city’s ability to stave off equipment purchase requests that have already been put off since last year, such as requests for police cruisers and motorcycles, fire equipment and computer upgrades.
Among the hardest-hit services are the police and fire departments, which account for 70 percent of the city’s $65 million general fund, which is the flexible part of the budget over which the city has the most control.
The police department since two years ago has lost 10 field/patrol positions, according to the budget.
And the fire department has lost 9 firefighter positions.
To keep public safety staffing levels, the city will likely have to use asset forfeiture money from the police department to pay for overtime for police officers and firefighters.
The city’s community development department – which oversees building projects – was also hit hard in this year’s budget after the state took away the ability of cities to capture property taxes into community development funds to invest in blighted areas of the city.
The city the coming fiscal year will lose more than $1.2 million in interest income from loans it gave to its redevelopment agency, which was the name of the mechanism that let the city reinvest the property taxes.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the council is scheduled to approve minor fee increases in many areas, especially planning. For instance, a conditional use permit application will jump from $1,750 to $2,000.
And recreations fees, such as the rental of city-owned facilities, will increase a few dollars.
A long-term look at the city’s finances shows a huge reduction in staffing levels, marking a sea change in the scope of what local government can or cannot do.
With the outlawing of redevelopment agencies, the loss of property taxes and steep reductions in money from the federal government, cities all over are cutting services.
Downey spent nearly $9 million more than it budgeted for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, and this year’s budget represents a realistic model of how the city will forge ahead in the coming years.
Right now, the city’s reserve stands about $24 million, down from about a high of $38 million from before the recession hit.
Overall, the city will probably take in about the same amount of money as it did last year, according to predictions.
In the 2009-2010 fiscal year, Downey had 463 full-time employees. After layoffs are complete this fall, the city will have only 368 full-time employees – a 20 percent reduction in staff.
An additional 350 part-time employees also work for the city each year.
Among the few services to get more funding was graffiti removal, which will be budgeted for $296,000 this year compared to $230,000 last year.