"To actually ask for reductions in salaries is very difficult" said Chico City Manager Dave Burkland. Unfortunately for Chico City Officials, it's the only option. A 5-million dollar deficit has left them no choice. Now city workers have been given an ultimatum... either take a cut in pay, or layoffs are on the way. "That's not pleasant, it's not comfortable, but it's not as uncomfortable or unpleasant as it will be to try to provide police services with 12 less employees" said Chico Police Chief Mike Maloney.
City workers have been asked to take a 5% general wage cut as well as increase the share they pay for health benefits from 25% to 40%. If all unions do not agree to the terms, layoffs will be made. Those layoffs would include loosing six Chico police officers and three community service officers. The department is already down three due to previous cuts. And this time, the chief says people will notice a difference. "The complexion of safety in this community would change" Maloney explained.
As it stands, the chief says the department is already stretched too thin and has difficulty keeping up with the community's demands. "There's already calls for service that are not being handled, there's crimes that are occurring that are not being documented because we simply don't have the time or resources to keep up with that" Maloney said. City manager Burkland adds "I don't want to see anymore lost because that definitely has an affect on the citizens and our ability to respond". And it seems Chico residents tend to agree "I think you start cutting down on fire and police the city's at risk" explained Chico resident Ted Shred.
The city and union members have until January 1st to find common ground. The city experienced a 7.5% reduction in the budget for the two previous fiscal years. That resulted in a 1.6-Million dollar loss for the police department.