State

Turlock budget: 21 jobs at risk

TURLOCK -- The Turlock City Council will consider a plan to lay off more than 5 percent of the city work force during a budget workshop Tuesday night.

A subcommittee whose members include Mayor John Lazar and Councilman Ted Howze will present a package of $2.5 million in cuts that includes eliminating 21 full- and part-time jobs. The council has frozen 14 vacant positions.

The city will use nearly $2.7 million of its general fund reserve to help cover the remainder of the $5.2 million deficit for the 2009-10 budget, which starts July 1.

A plan to freeze employee merit pay increases is on the table.

"There's nothing historic about the times we're in," said Sheila Cumberland, who oversees Turlock's budget and is one of the people who would be laid off under the proposal. "This is just something very new and very different."

Turlock has lost $3.4 million in sales and property tax revenue in the past year. In that time, several large businesses have closed, including Circuit City, Mervyn's, Youngdales, Turlock Auto Plaza and Woods Furniture.

The layoffs would save the city $882,000. Freezing merit pay, which is subject to union approval, would save $300,000.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.

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