Public safety layoffs on hold

Tacoma City Council passed a resolution Dec. 13 that will delay for 30 days the layoffs planned for about 100 police officers and firefighters. It also directs interim City Manager Rey Arellano to have an independent review to be done of the city’s projected revenues and expenditures for 2012-14. Councilmember Jake Fey, primary sponsor of the measure, called the review a reasonable action for the council to take. “I think it is important in a city manager form of government to do a check of the facts and to report back to the citizenry on our fact check,” Fey said.

The $30,000 for the review will come from the council’s contingency fund. Results are expected back by Jan. 10.

The council agreed to forego a transfer of $1.5 million from the general fund to the contingency fund next year. The money will go to mitigate layoffs, according to Councilmember Joe Lonergan. “It is all hands on deck,” he observed.

The council plans further discussions with fire and police unions, which could result in some concessions from organized labor.

“We need a lot of solutions to mitigate layoffs,” Councilmember Ryan Mello said. “We need the help of our employees.”

Also passed were ordinances that will increase business license fees by $10, increase false alarm fees by $40 and fines for red light and speeding camera tickets by $23. Other revenue enhancement is under consideration. The council’s Government Performance and Finance Committee will discuss taxes on non-profit healthcare providers during its Dec. 21 meeting.

Earlier in the day Finance Director Bob Biles shared his latest projections, based partly on actual revenue generated through November. He said they show the budget shortfall at $31 million through the end of 2012. Business taxes are up $538,800 from what was projected. “Business taxes are the heroes of this month’s report,” he remarked.


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