TURLOCK -- The City Council will consider slashing more than $5 million and laying off 21 city employees tonight.
Among the hardest hit would be building department workers, nine of whom would lose their jobs if the package of budget cuts for 2009-10 is approved.
Development Services Director Mike Pitcock said the loss of nearly 20,000 work hours in the building department will mean longer waits in City Hall and recorded messages rather than a live person on the phone.
The city expects to collect about $27.7 million for its general fund over the next year -- $2.5 million less than it budgeted last year.
Among possible cuts to be debated tonight, and their dollar values:
• Shutting off half the streetlights on the west side and in older Turlock neighborhoods: $165,000
• Eliminate city support for an arts facilitator, the Arts Commission's full-time staffer: $92,100
• Postponing merit pay increases, which would require union approval: $301,000
The city plans to cut the deficit in half by using general fund reserves.
Earlier this year, city groups agreed to put 5 percent of their salaries toward their health care costs and pensions. Without it, the city would be facing a $6 million shortfall.
The council also is scheduled to talk about concerns that closed-session discussions about the hiring of new City Manager Roy Wasden may have been leaked to the public by a council member. Mayor John Lazar, who asked that the item be put on the agenda, said Monday that he conducted his own investigation and found "no justification for the concern."
The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2337.