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10 percent pay cut for all city workers?
City employees in the various labor groups are being asked to take a 10 percent pay cut to help Ceres City Hall make ends meet in the face of a shrinking revenue pie.

Acting Deputy City Manager Art deWerk is representing the city on its negotiation team to bring about the labor cost reduction for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

If they become reality, the cuts will amount to a general fund savings of $1.105 million.

"We're looking at a revenue shortfall of about $3.6 million," said deWerk. "We're still going to be short but the idea is you can only ask so much from the employees without creating an untenable employment environment and also putting those folks in bankruptcy."

DeWerk noted that other cities in California are seeking concessions from employees as one way of dealing with revenue shortfalls. But he said 10 percent is "at the high end - most are at five, six, seven, and eight percent."

By contrast, Ceres school district teachers approved an 8 percent cut in salaries to stave off teacher layoffs this budget year.

DeWerk said the savings would increase the likelihood against the loss of city jobs but said "there's no guarantee of no layoffs."

"We are going to do everything we can to avoid it including cutting operational costs and holding off on purchases, and making our fleet go more miles."

The city is realizing budget savings in other areas, he added. One area is by not replacing retiring deputy fire chief Brian Weber "in the foreseeable future," deWerk said. Fire Marshall Brian Nicholes is taking on Weber's role with a minor increase in pay. By not immediately hiring Weber's replacement the city saves about $200,000 annually, said deWerk.

"The council will also have to decide on whether or not they want to use funds that are intended for various projects and basically hold off on some of the implementation of those projects," said deWerk. "That is a Band-Aid approach and something that many cities are doing. It's not necessarily things we do for more than a couple of years in the hope that revenues rebound and you ween yourself off of those funds."

One bright spot in the budget scenario is a grant awarded Ceres to help fund two full-time community service officers previously eliminated. The city snagged the $473,000 Byrne JAG grant to hire back eliminated civilian positions. It replaces two employees for two years.

Kilger and deWerk are not part of any labor group but already took pay cuts.