DOWNEY - Twelve city workers will be laid off by July 1 as a direct result of the state's elimination of redevelopment agencies, Downey officials said this week.City manager Gilbert Livas blamed state and federal budget cuts for the layoffs, calling them "drastic" and "devastating." Layoffs were a last resort, he said. Affected employees have already been notified. Among the eliminated positions were the economic development manager and neighborhood preservation coordinator. "We appreciate the commitment and valuable contributions that our City employees provide to help deliver high-quality services to the Downey community," Livas said. "Layoffs were a last resort and we are doing all we can to minimize the impact of these devastating cuts." No further layoffs are expected "at this time," Livas added. The city of Downey was using about $1.1 million in state redevelopment money to staff full- and part-time positions. Funding was cut off Feb. 1 by Gov. Jerry Brown as a cost-savings measure. In total, Downey lost about $3.2 million from the state this year. The city also faces "drastic reductions" in federal HOME funds and Community Development Block Grant allocations. Downey has been operating at a deficit since 2008-09, and has used reserve funds to plug its annual deficit. Mayor Roger Brossmer said layoffs were unavoidable after the state eliminated redevelopment funds. "Budget cuts from the state forced us to impact the lives of hard-working employees. It had nothing to do with the way they did their jobs," said Brossmer. "It's just that their position was tied to funding that is no longer available." "They were great employees," Brossmer added. "It's just a shame we had to do this." Councilman Mario Guerra was especially critical of Sacramento politicians. "It's real sad that the governor and legislature haven't done their jobs and they are hurting real people," said Guerra. "I'm saddened and appalled that this happened. Those dollars we lost are directly tied to Gov. Brown." According to Livas, the city is hopeful future developments such as Tierra Luna Marketplace will put the city on better financial footing. "We know that working through the consequences of the State's decision will be challenging, but we are committed to finding solutions and look forward to new developments in the City that should improve our economic situation in the coming years," Livas said.
********** Published: February 9, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 43