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Alameda City Treasurer & Auditor Call for 10% Salary Cuts to Public Safety

By Erica Madison

“We don’t have a unilateral right to cut salaries. It’s a negotiation,” said Mayor Marie Gilmore at the June 26, 2012 City Council meeting.

After hearing that one-time funds were being used to balance the budget, Alameda City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy and Alameda City Auditor Kevin Kearney, both told the City Council they needed to cut Alameda Fire and Police department salaries by ten percent.

Both men warned the council that the City of Alameda was running out of places and things to cut, in order balance the budget in future years. Instead of asking for more taxes, Kennedy said that Alameda needed to work within the parameters of what they could afford. Accorded to Kearney, public safety needed to take hit.

It’s not hard to see why the men want such deep cuts. 66% of Alameda’s budget is allocated to the Alameda Fire and Police departments.

Both Mayor Gilmore and Councilmember Lena Tam cautioned against taking this form of action.

“If we negotiate, what is the community willing to give up?” said Mayor Gilmore. “We can’t balance this entirely on the backs of employees.”

The Mayor informed both men that Alameda does not have the power to slash salaries. If they negotiate a ten percent salary cut, the City would need to offer something in return. This probably would result in an additional decrease in service to the residents of Alameda.

Councilmember Tam thought it was unethical for the City to ask public safety to balance the economic downturn.

“I think it’s unfair to burden an entire generation,” she said.

City Manager John Russo also countered the argument by stating that there was still more work to be done in terms of alternative saving strategies.

“We are scouring for more efficient ways to provide services,” said Russo.

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