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Sacramento Passes Budget But Still Seeks Concessions From Police

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Steve Large Steve Large
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The Sacramento City Council voted to approve the 2012-13 budget on Tuesday night after much of the $15.7 million deficit was erased by employee pension concessions, but one group is still holding out.

“Everybody’s getting tired, tired of fighting the same battle,” said Chris Andrew with Sacramento Fire Fighters Local Union 522.

It may be a case of budget-battle fatigue, but the council chambers weren’t crowded for Tuesday’s meeting.

City Manager John Shirey says last-minute pension reform tentative agreements may have saved about 80 city jobs.

Firefighters still have to ratify the agreement to contribute more to their pensions.

“It’s going to be a challenge to get it through because as you know last year we gave back,” Andrew said. “We pushed back our raise, we agreed to pay 6 percent of our PERS.”

But the number of city employee positions slated for elimination is still in the hundreds and an agreement on pension reform with the police union has yet to be reached.

This is the sixth straight year of Sacramento budget deficits.

The city has eliminated 1,400 positions, 25 percent of its workforce, over that time span. The total dollar figure for deficits addressed in that time now stands at $234 million.

It’s all Mayor Kevin Johnson has known since being elected into office.

“I’m typically not in favor of making cuts to police and fire, but we are in a very difficult situation because if we can’t get pension reform, we are going to have to make some cuts,” the mayor said.

The city is asking police to contribute 9 percent to their pensions. The budget passed Tuesday includes laying off 19 officers at the end of the month if a pension agreement isn’t reached.

“The city is only talking about pension reform,” said Dustin Smith, the acting president of the Sacramento Police Officers Association. “They’re not really looking for any other type of concession.”

The city is still hoping an agreement can be reached with the police union prior to July 1.

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