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UPDATED City layoffs announced

Submitted by on 1, May 7, 2009 – 5:45 am7 Comments

2The city’s new interim manager has announced layoffs that will effectively cut our planning and building department in half, trim the fire department’s daily staffing further and force the closure of a fire station out on Alameda Point.

The city is slated to cut 64 positions – 10 percent of its workforce – laying off 40 workers and leaving 24 vacant positions dark. Laid-off workers will get pink slips next Friday, May 15, after the city figures out who exactly will be shown the door. They’ll get two weeks pay and health care through the end of July.

The move will save the city $6.5 million next year.

“The issue is, there’s absolutely no way of living within our budget and paying our fixed charge bills without cutting staff. It just is not possible,” Gallant said. She said the city has already made all the other non-staff cuts it can.

The city council approved more than $4 million in cuts in June to balance its budget this year; it has since okayed another $4.4 million in midyear cuts to match a precipitous drop in sales tax and other revenues.

The city employed 659 workers in 2008.

Gallant said the cuts should put the city in the black for the next 24 months, though she and others expressed concern that the state could opt to raid city treasuries in an effort to balance its own budget.

Alan Elnick of the Alameda City Employees Association, which represents 26 of the 40 workers set to lose their jobs, conceded that the city’s facing tough financial times. But he said he’s hopeful he can come up with a plan that saves some jobs.

Alameda firefighters union spokesman Jeff DelBono, who said firefighters are saddened about all the job cuts, said the fire cuts – which include five layoffs and the loss of six vacant positions – will hurt service levels.

Daily staffing levels could drop to 22 per day, with a maximum of 24, a level the city has regularly seen since the department enacted brownouts in January to slow the use of its remaining overtime funds. Prior to that, the city had 27 fire personnel on duty every day.

Fire Station 5 at Alameda Point will be permanently closed, and DelBono said an additional fire company could be shuttered when staffing drops below 24.

“There are going to be significant impacts. Firefighters are going to try to keep providing the service levels that we can, but services will be impacted,” DelBono said.

The planning and building department will lose 16 people, including their director, Cathy Woodbury, effectively cutting the department in half. Gallant presented a chart to the council Tuesday night that showed a decline in planning department activity. The department’s expenses are close to $1 million higher than revenues as of the end of March.

The city manager’s office, city clerk, finance and the library are not slated to see any job cuts. Alameda Municipal Power, which jettisoned a dozen employees when it sold its telecommunications business in November, will not see any further job cuts.

The list also includes a dozen golf employees who inked a deal with the city in November that maintains their positions through the end of 2009. But those workers could “bump” into positions in the city’s recreation and parks department, which doesn’t have any positions on the layoff list.

Seven vacant police positions will also be cut. Public works will lose 11 positions, eight of them already vacant; human resources, two positions, both filled; development services two positions, one filled; and one staffer in the city attorney’s office will lose their job.

The city is dealing with the same economic crisis faced by every other level of government (heck, let’s just call it everyone). It is also facing the recent discovery that some of its departments weren’t properly charged for workers compensation bills, the long and the short of which is that the city has a lot less cash on hand than folks on the council thought we did.

Here’s the full list (V for vacant, F for filled):

MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL:

N/A

CITY MANAGER:

N/A

CITY ATTORNEY:

Assistant city attorney I (F)

CITY CLERK:

N/A

ALAMEDA MUNICIPAL POWER:

N/A

DEVELOPMENT SERVICES:

Development manager (2) (V,F)

FINANCE:

N/A

FIRE:

Division chief (V)

Fire captain (4) (3F, 1V)

Fire apparatus operator (3) (1F, 2V)

Firefighter (2) (1F, 1V)

Fire/building code compliance officer (V)

GOLF: (cuts previously ID’d for 12/31/09)

Equipment operator (3) (F)

Golf & park team leader (2) (F)

Golf course utility worker (2) (F)

Equipment mechanic (F)

Golf & park maintenance worker (4) (F)

HUMAN RESOURCES:

Administrative management analyst (F)

Administrative tech I (F)

LIBRARY:

N/A

PLANNING AND BUILDING:

Plan check engineer (V)

Senior combination building inspector (V)

Supervising planner (2) (F)

Planner III (2) (F)

Combination building inspector (4) (F)

Fire building code compliance officer (F)

Permit tech III (2) (F)

Intermediate clerk (3) (F)

Executive assistant (F)

Planning and Building Director (F)

POLICE:

Police lieutenant (V)

Police sergeant (2) (V)

Police officer (4) (V)

PUBLIC WORKS:

Public works supervisor (V)

Associate civil engineer (2) (V)

Maintenance worker I (3) (V)

Maintenance worker III (2) (V)

Administrative services coordinator (F)

Transportation coordinator (F)

Senior draftsperson (F)

RECREATION AND PARKS:

N/A

7 Comments »

  • John says:

    Is that correct, according to the spreadsheet Fire has 25 Captains?! And their overtime is over $600,000 for the year. Why are we paying senior managers OT? I looked at Police they have 10 employees (Cheif, Captains and Lieut) in Senior Mang. and only one had any OT.

    Does not make sense.

  • Jim Colburn says:

    To clarify,

    A Fire Captain is the fire company officer – the lowest level of supervision in the fire department and typical in the fire service. This is similar to what a police sergeant may do with regard to supervisory duties. This is not like a Police Captain, which may have upper management responsibilities similar to that of a Deputy Fire Chief.

    I hope this helps to answer your question.

    -Jim Colburn

    Secretary, Alameda Firefighter's Association

  • Neal_J says:

    Two words: union contract.

    The better question is why does the City agree to such contract terms?

  • John says:

    Jim,

    Thanks it helps to understand the apples-to-apples comparison with the Police. It looks like the Captain is hybird between a police Sargent and a Lieutenant, let me know if that is incorrect, but that is still a tough thing to swallow what appears to still be a management position. If it is supervisory, then it is management and should be exempt to OT, just like the other supervisory positions in the City.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    Management exempt from overtime? Surely you jest. When I was on the council, managers got comp time or extra time off for extra hours worked. In addition to about 20 days of paid vacation to start, managers who clock extra hours get the equivalent of the same amount of time off at a time of their choosing. So if one is working from 4pm until 12 pm for a council meeting, then that could equal another full day off with full pay. For all the City attorneys, planners etc. that go to these meetings.

    Michele: Did you include all of the extra fees the City pays for its management and professional workers? Such as annual fees to the City Manager's Association, California State Bar Association, Membership in the City Attorney's Associations? As well as the annual trips for these associations meetings in Monterey, Yosemite (Ahwanee Lodge), etc. that are considered work time? That adds up too.

    • Hi Barbara,

      I don't see a line item that specifically cites those types of things in the list of different pay types. I see overtime, acting pay, a number of different types of allowances (car, uniform and equipment) and incentive pay (management, education). I'll try to get the PDFs up in a readable form so folks can see the exact breakdowns.

  • K. Sanderberg says:

    If Fire Captain is the lowest in the supervisory chain, what were the Fire Lieutenants equivalent to before they were given an across the board promotion to Fire Captain a few years back? Clerks? Staffing levels need to be rolled back to 1994 levels.

    This is municipal government folks. Stop trying to pass yourselves off as a private corporation and get serious about representing the community as the public taxpayer-funded entity you are.

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