Councilmembers among those to take 10 percent pay cut

Looks like El Monte police chief Ken Weldon is retiring in the nick of time:

In addition, city manager James Mussenden, future police chief Tom Armstrong, and city council members all took 10 percent pay cuts. City attorney Clark Moseley will retire early and work on a contractual basis for the next five months – saving the city in benefit payments.

El Monte cuts employees, programs
Article Launched: 12/17/2008 11:04:31 PM PST

By Rebecca Kimitch

EL MONTE – Jobs will be cut, programs will be reduced and high-level administrators will take pay cuts to help the city deal with a $4 million budget deficit. And the city is still more than $1 million shy of a balanced budget.

The city council unanimously approved the cost-cutting plan Wednesday night.

Departments across the city, from planning to parks and recreation to the police department, were asked to cut their budgets by 15 percent.

More than 100 full and part time positions will be eliminated temporarily or permanently.

The aquatic center will be closed from January to May; some after school recreation programs will be eliminated; and park lighting will be reduced. Trees will be trimmed less; parks and medians will be watered less.

Employees will cut their attendance of conferences and overtime will be reduced.

In addition, city manager James Mussenden, future police chief Tom Armstrong, and city council members all took 10 percent pay cuts. City attorney Clark Moseley will retire early and work on a contractual basis for the next five months – saving the city in benefit payments.

The police department, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the city’s $33.7 million budget that could potentially be cut, will reduce its budget by 6 percent through elimination of several positions.

In all, city staff found $2.9 million in budget cuts.

City officials are still in negotiations with union leaders that could produce pay cuts, further layoffs or shorter work weeks for police officers and other city employees. Officials hope the labor negotiations will “soften the blow” of the approved cost-cutting plan and begin to address future budget shortfalls in the coming years, according to assistant city manager Dante Hall.

Without the plan, the city could have run out of cash by Februay to pay salaries and other expenses. The city has drained its operating reserves, which are used to meet monthly expenses, and it has no rainy day fund.

With the council-approved plan, the city will operate with $2 million in operating reserves – $3 million less than what is ideal.

Officials attribute the deficit to a major drop in sales tax revenue and a reduction in funds from the state.