Layoffs avoided in budget deal

DOWNEY - After a series of cutbacks by department heads, and without resorting to layoffs, furloughs or drastic cuts to city services, Downey's nearly $4.8 million budget deficit has been trimmed to only $263,000.The most visible effect from the budget deficit will be a reduction in operating hours at the Downey City Library. The library will close one hour earlier Monday through Thursday. By closing at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., the city will save $40,000, according to John Michicoff, the city's director of finance. The library's Friday through Sunday hours will remain unchanged. The city will also save $2 million by continuing a hiring freeze and not filling positions recently left open by departing or retiring employees. There are currently 37 open positions within the city, constituting a 7 percent vacancy rate, Michicoff said. Other areas of savings include $1.2 million by suspending liability and equipment charges; $709,000 in operational savings agreed upon by department heads; $452,000 in a freeze on equipment purchases; and $165,000 in capitol project funding no longer deemed necessary. The remaining $263,000 deficit will be filled using the city's reserve funds, estimated at approximately $35.5 million. Councilmen David Gafin and Mario Guerra sat on a subcommittee that worked with city staff to slash the deficit. "The key directive we gave to staff was no layoffs," said Gafin, an accountant by trade. "The second directive was to get (the deficit) to $3 million or less. And they did that."

********** Published: March 26, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 49