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Council Cancels Vacation to Make Budget Decision

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, September 16, 2009, at 10:49AM
_IGP9728.JPG Ed Fuentes

City Council was supposed to be recessed today, with members attending the League of California Cities’ Annual Conference in San Jose. Instead, the body will reconvene at noon today to continue talks on how to fix a bleeding budget.

Central to discussions is a retirement plan proposed by the City unions, but now opposed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The Council spent much of Tuesday in closed session debating the early retirement plan. It had initially been championed by the Mayor, but yesterday, faced with new projections that show the plan costing money instead of saving it, he reversed course and vowed to veto the package if it reached his desk.

Should the plan pass, it would have more than just a financial impact. Roughly 2,400 employees would be offered cash bonuses to retire early, and no one knows exactly what the effect of those retirements could be on departmental capabilities.

If the Council elects against the retirement plan, it could instead choose to lay off nearly 1000 workers to bridge a $405-million budget gap.

Update (4:30pm): While expressing hope that an agreement could be reached, Council today voted to move forward with a plan that would cut 926 positions and require City employees to take furlough days.

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