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Orange County Focus

WESTMINSTER : Budget Includes Pay Freeze, Benefit Cuts

July 16, 1993|ANDREA HEIMAN

The City Council this week approved its 1993-94 fiscal year budget, which includes a salary freeze and benefit reductions for all city employees, a hiring freeze in the Police Department and a reduction of Fire Department personnel from 74 to 68.

"This is the first time in five fiscal years we have recommended a reduction in personnel, services and benefits," said City Manager Jerry Kenny. "We did this with a heavy heart, knowing the city already has the fewest staff per capita of any city in Orange County."

The city must come to an agreement with employee unions before imposing benefit reductions.

The budget includes elimination of one administrative position and no new police cars for the third straight year.

The city is facing a $4-million shortfall because of a $2.6-million revenue loss and an increase in expenses, Finance Director Brian Mayhew said.

Mayhew attributed the lost revenue partly to the weak economy but mostly to the state, which has been diverting tax revenue to balance its own budget, he said.

"It wouldn't be that bad except for the state," Mayhew said. "And I don't expect the state to stop taking city money--it's their only choice."

Each city throughout the state is required to balance its budget. Westminster has a $48-million budget and a $1.5-million reserve, which was depleted by $900,000 after the state took local funds, Mayor Charles V. Smith said.

"We spent many long hours and a lot of blood, sweat and tears on this thing," Smith said. "We can't allow the $1.5-million reserve to go to zero or we would cease to exist. We are doing all we can to see that that doesn't happen."

Smith said cities throughout the county are feeling the budget pinch.

"If the state continues to take our money, it will do severe damage to the city's ability to perform its services for the people," he said.

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