After months of debate and delay, the City Council this week voted to eliminate 50 full-time city jobs in an effort to help close a $10.6-million budget gap.
The council on Tuesday also agreed to consider a tax increase, as well as additional job cuts to balance the budget.
Officials aren't sure exactly how many employees will be laid off when the cuts take effect on July 1. Some employees might take early retirement and others might find jobs in other departments, City Manager Ron Thompson said.
The council action comes about a month after Thompson released a budget plan calling for the elimination of as many as 80 positions. In March, council members gave a tentative nod to the proposal but said they needed more time to study the long-term impact of the reductions.
The cuts approved Tuesday will be felt throughout the city, from libraries to parks.
Thompson said the council decided against eliminating positions in the Police and Fire departments until officials determine how those cuts would affect public safety.
Police and fire union officials have warned that proposed cuts in their departments would reduce levels of emergency services--something several council members said they are reluctant to do.
The council plans to consider two possible tax increases at a future meeting. One idea is to create a utility users tax on telephones, water, electricity and cable television. A 1% tax would generate about $1.2 million in annual revenues, Thompson said. A second idea is to create some sort of a tax on apartment units.
More job cuts are expected before a final budget is approved later this summer. Thompson warned that many more than 80 jobs might have to be cut if employees don't agree to continue the Friday work furlough and if police officers and firefighters refuse to reduce their pay by at least 4%.