The City of Merced has begun notifying 64 employees today that they may be laid off this year because of the City's budget deficit. Another 16 vacant positions would be eliminated under the proposed budget, the City announced.
There would be 34 members from the Police Department laid off, 14 firefighters, 12 from Public Works and two members from the Finance Department and two from the Engineering/Development Services Department.
If adopted by Council, the layoffs would go into effect June 27.
The eliminated positions are part of a 15 percent across-the-board budget cut that will go before the City Council at its Monday, May 2 meeting.
The city is facing a deficit of more than $5.5 million dollars in its general fund because of huge decreases in sales tax and property tax revenues. Police and fire personnel represent a large share of the layoffs because they receive 74 percent of the General Fund monies.
The City has undertaken a variety of cost saving measures in the last three years. At the April 3 City Council meeting it began the process of creating a two-tier retirement system where new employees would pay the entire employee share of the retirement contribution. The share current employees pay into retirement was also increased.
The portion of employee medical payments has been increased, while the plan coverage has been decreased over the last two years. The city has already frozen pay for more than two years and eliminated 90 positions.
Employees given notice may have "bumping rights" which allow them to return to a lower position that they had previously held. When they bump an employee, this could trigger additional bumping rights that could take a month to work through.
Affected employees are being offered counseling services and job development assistance.
The employee unions have been notified of the layoffs.