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Compton city workers face budget ax as council is poised to authorize layoffs [Updated]

May 24, 2011 | 12:42 pm

Faced with a gaping general fund deficit, the Compton City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday night on a measure authorizing the city manager to lay off city workers.

The resolution does not specify the number of jobs to be cut, but City Manager Willie Norfleet told City Council members in a memo that “drastic reductions” in spending will be needed to keep the city afloat.

The city has no reserves and has been running a deficit for at least two years. The shortfall now totals 43% of the general fund, and next year's budget is also projected to be in the red. The city’s independent audit firm recently warned that the budget situation is dire enough to raise “substantial doubt about the city’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

The city was facing a $9-million gap in the general fund for the current year as of the end of March, according to the most recent available financial statement. The total general fund budget is $58.4 million. The combined two-year deficit is $25 million.

Norfleet did not respond to a request for comment. Councilwoman Barbara Calhoun also declined to comment, and other council members could not be reached.

[Updated at 6 p.m.: James Walker Jr., a city maintenance worker and chapter president of SEIU Local 721, said the unions representing the city employees will be out in force to request that the City Council vote against the layoffs.

Walker said preliminary estimates show the city cutting 97 to 120 jobs in next year’s budget. “Everybody’s concerned, everybody’s anxious to hear it -- the word ‘layoff’ is a bad word,” he said.

The unions are requesting that the departments find ways to make cuts in operational expenses, not personnel. Walker said he was upset that the city had allowed itself to land in its current situation.

“A few years back, when we were negotiating, they had a surplus of several million dollars,” he said. “What did you do to safeguard that?”]

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-- Abby Sewell

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