Moments before her budget presentation to the media, scheduled to begin any second, City Manager Mary Suhm called with a bit of a sneak preview. We'll have more shortly, upon our return from City Hall, but when asked what was the most difficult cut she had to make to balance the $190 million deficit, Suhm took a long pause, then said, "I don't know if there one thing. It was really about balancing the needs and desires of the citizens and the council vis-à-vis the money. Lots of things are important to lots of people, and I tried to address those at a level that makes sense and makes the budget."
She said that when all's said and done, she will have to lay off 850 City Hall employees, who are expected to get their pink slips next week. But, she insists, there are vacant positions to be filled -- and some of those could be funded with federal, state and Enterprise Fund money. She says she expects 300, 400 full-timers will ultimately find themselves unemployed because of the budget cuts.
Building inspection will suffer a massive cut -- somewhere between 60 to 70, Suhm says. Also cut dramatically: historic preservation, which will be left without support staff.
"There aren't a lot of people saying, 'I need a building permit' these days," Suhm says. "And that's a you-eat-what-you-kill department: Inspection fees pay staff, and if no one's building or remodeling anything, there aren't any permits buildings."
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