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Long Beach to cut dozens of police and fire jobs in bid to close $18.5-million deficit

September 15, 2010 |  5:36 pm

In an effort to cut a $18.5-million deficit, the Long Beach City Council approved plans Tuesday to slash dozens of police and fire jobs.

Under the plan, there would be a rotating closure of fire stations in the city, which could take fire engines and equipment out of service.

City officials, however, say some of the cuts could be avoided if employee unions agree to forgo raises previously approved in existing contracts.

“We are still in active negotiations with the police and fire unions,” said Tom Modica, manager of government affairs for Long Beach. “If a successful compromise could be reached, certain parts of the reduction will not go into effect.”

Under plans adopted Tuesday, the city could eliminate about 64 police and 21 fire positions.

Officials say they hope most of the cuts will not require layoffs but will be accomplished through attrition. There are more than 900 Police Department employees.

But so-called brown-outs, or taking fire stations out of service, might be unavoidable, city officials said.

“You never like to take reductions,” said Braden Phillips, administration bureau chief at the Police Department.

“These are difficult times. We will have fewer officers next year than we had this year,” said Phillips. “But our chief is determined to provide the highest possible level of public safety with the resources available.”

-- Ching-Ching Ni

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