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Budget Crunch Pay Cuts, No Layoffs
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Painful can best describe this year's budget negotiations in Escalon.

That, according to Escalon City Manager Greg Greeson, who said the city council is close to adopting a budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, but it's not one that anyone is really happy about.

Gathering for an informational budget workshop session on Monday night, Greeson outlined a spending plan of $3.125 million and operating revenues estimated at just over $3 million, leaving a deficit of close to $108,000.

Plans are to make up that deficit by using reserve funds.

The city's reserve balance as of July 1, 2009 stood at $4.188 million. Other reserve funds, to be used for debt service and the capital improvement program, will leave the city with a reserve estimated at $2.744 million by June 30, 2010.

Also included in the package are furlough days and pay reductions for all employees.

Police officers will see a 4.6 percent decrease in salaries paid through 12 non-paid furlough days and 'rank and file' employees will lose five percent of their pay in 13 non-paid furlough days. Mid-management - which includes the police services manager, assistant to the city manager and recreation director - takes a seven-and-a-half percent cut through 13 non-paid furlough days and 2.5 percent pay reduction; and management, including all city department heads and managers, will have a five percent reduction in pay plus 13 unpaid furlough days per year for a total 10 percent salary reduction.

"I don't think anybody likes for this to happen," Greeson said.

This has been the worst budget year since he has been on the job here, he added, and he said as tough as it was, city department heads deserved praise from making cuts and operating on a 'bare bones' budget.

The goal is to maintain services but he admitted that will get increasingly difficult if the state's economic condition doesn't improve. Sales tax for the city is down, property tax is down and there's still uncertainty over what money the state may take from municipalities to help solve their own budget crisis.

Many employees and department heads turned out for the session along with roughly a half dozen community residents. Greeson outlined the spending plan in a power point presentation and though there were comments after, there were no suggestions made by the council or the public for changes to the plan.

That means it will go to the full council for adoption at the July 20 regular meeting.

"There were no layoffs," Greeson said. "They (employees) knew something like this (salary reductions) would be the case but they all have chosen to be a part of the solution."