By Black Voice News Staff Report
The fight over a dramatic austerity plan for bankrupt San Bernardino continues. It escalated at Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council when city officials weighed a plan that would slash jobs, close libraries, and contract out some key services to private companies.
The plan would shave $22.4 million off the city’s $45.8 million general fund budget deficit. “We have no choice. We don’t have sufficient funds, Interim City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller told the council. “We have to make the deep cuts.”
The proposed plan would eliminate more than 100 jobs, including 41 non-sworn positions in the Police Department and other department including managers, clerical staff and janitors. Twenty positions were slated to be cut from the Fire Department, triggering demotions but no layoffs. Several council members took issue with the proposal calling it “ill conceived”. “I think we should vote on a plan that relies on experts. Not members of this City Council.” Rikke Van Johnson said referring to an alternate plan proposed by Councilman Chas Kelly. Councilwoman Wendy McCammack refused to support a plan to outsource key city services including trash – a long running point of contention between Mayor Pat Morris and some members of the council. The discussion erupted into finger pointing and outbursts from the audience when Morris refused to call for a vote on the plan until all department heads weighed in. There were loud boos directed at City Attorney James F. Penman, who openly accused Morris of packing City Hall with his supporters.
Unable to agree on a proposal to guide the city through bankruptcy, the council adjourned and decided to reconvene Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 3 p.m. A proposal by councilman Chas Kelley, on the table late Tuesday night, failed by a vote of 4-3.
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