Compton council votes to authorize layoffs of city workers to help close budget gap
The Compton City Council voted Tuesday night to authorize worker layoffs as a way to address the city's fiscal crisis.
The resolution did not specify how many jobs would be cut but gave the city manager authority to issue layoff notices without further council approval.
The city has no budget reserve and is facing a total general fund deficit of $25 million -- $9 million of that from the current fiscal year. The city's independent audit firm has questioned Compton's ability to continue operating at all.
City Manager Willie Norfleet said the number of jobs to be cut has not been determined, but to make the cuts effective in the coming fiscal year, the layoff notices would need to be issued by June 1.
James Walker Jr., a city maintenance worker and chapter president of SEIU Local 721, said preliminary estimates showed the city cutting 97 to 120 jobs.
Management has been meeting with the unions representing city employees to explore alternatives to cutting jobs, but Norfleet said, with personnel costs making up 44% of the general fund budget, he saw no way to avoid layoffs.
Councilwoman Barbara Calhoun, who cast the sole dissenting vote, said she had not been given enough information about the proposals brought forward by the unions.
"I understand about the deficit, I understand that we need money, but I'm just saying, it bothers me about the layoffs when nothing has been given to me about what has been worked out with the unions," she said.
Unions members showed up at the council meeting to object to the proposal. Workers expressed anger over the fact that they had been told until recently that the city was in good fiscal condition.
"It's amazing to me what happened -- what went wrong," said Daniel Gomez, a fire captain with the Compton Fire Department and vice president of the International Assn. of Firefighters Local 2216.
Mayor Eric Perrodin declined to comment after the meeting. Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux was absent.
-- Abby Sewell at Compton City Hall
Photo: A Compton resident speaks to city officals at a council meeting in March. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times