Carson deputies, firefighters would be cut as city’s deficit nears $8 million |

Carson deputies, firefighters would be cut as city’s deficit nears $8 million

Sandi Hoover

A $7.9 million Carson City budget deficit will likely lead to cutting 30 city jobs, said City Manager Larry Werner.

Werner said Tuesday, however, he’s hoping that in the next two weeks, some of the pain can be mitigated by shifting employees around within the city.

“The number of positions to be cut stays the same, but we could move people around. We’ve done that for 100 positions already in the past few years,” he said.

“In the general fund alone, 60 positions have been eliminated,” Werner said.

“We’re still tweaking that list and talking to department heads so we won’t really have a good idea until the end of next week. We could be trading this for that as long as the dollar value stays the same,” he said.

But Sheriff Ken Furlong said the impact of 10 percent reductions would be devastating to his department.

“We have a budget of $15.8 million and we are 90 percent salary-based. At 10 percent, we would lose 10 civilians and a total of 13 sworn officers in patrol and in the jail,” Furlong said.

He said he is monitoring his department on a daily basis for ways to reorganize in order to minimize the effects of those losses.

He said he also would be enforcing – to the letter – the union contracts that are in effect that would result in layoffs to the people with the least seniority.

“We’ve built good programs in this city and we could lose them all,” he said.

Fire Chief Stacey Giomi said the cuts as outlined on the city’s priority list equate to losing six firefighters and one fire inspector.

“We could be looking at Station 3 (on Snyder Avenue) being closed at least some of the time,” Giomi said. “We are already understaffed, so this would definitely increase our response times, and time is the name of the game for us.”

As it is, Giomi said, staffing hasn’t changed in about 25 years, while the number of calls has more than quadrupled from about 1,800 calls a year in 1984 to 7,600 a year now.

“We’ll have to make do, but there are consequences,” he said.

In January, Carson City department heads, officials and employee association leaders drafted a list of 142 items that could be cut to help balance the budget for the 2011 fiscal year.

After tax revenues indicated the city would not likely be able to operate at its current levels, Finance Director Nick Providenti and Werner prioritized the list based on a 10 percent reduction, with public safety personnel for the most part the last to be cut.

Officials had held out hope that they would only need to implement cuts down to item 89 of the list.

“We thought it would only be about $4.5 million,” Werner said, “but we’re still seeing 15 percent to 16 percent sales tax revenue drops.”

Layoffs would likely start as early as May 1, but no later than July 1, start of the fiscal year, he said.

“It’s tough. If we can avoid it, we will, but it doesn’t look good. We dodged the bullet for awhile, but now it has caught up with us,” Werner said.

Werner said he will take the proposed cuts to the board of supervisors March 18 for direction.