Tacoma officials are proposing slashing 217 city jobs over the next two years in order to bridge a looming budget gap of $63 million.
The police and fire departments would both lose 27 officers and two support staff. Other layoffs would result from the restructuring of several city departments.
Tacoma City Manager T.C. Broadnax proposed his 2013-2014 budget before the Tacoma City Council on Tuesday.
He told members of the council that Tacoma lags behind the rest of the state. He said the city has an eroding tax base, unstable property values and infrastructure needs that continue to mount.
In recent years, Broadnax said, the city has balanced its budget by drawing down reserves to pay its bills.
“We cannot do that going forward, it is not sustainable,” Broadnax said. “So there are a lot of things we have got to do and reset all the expectations of the community and really shrink this organization to make sure that we are going to be sustainable in the future.”
Broadnax made the proposals after holding a series of public meetings on the budget. He acknowledged that this will be a difficult time for city employees who have “worked tirelessly.”
Of the 217 positions that the budget would eliminate, 64 are currently vacant.
Under the proposal, all non-union staff would forgo cost-of-living increases.
Broadnax is also seeking what he calls “revenue enhancements,” including a new $20 car tab fee. That would need to be approved by the City Council.
The proposals are meant to help bridge a projected $63 million gap in the city’s general fund. For the next two years, Broadnax is proposing a balanced general fund budget of close to $400 million.