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The city’s Neighborhood Services Division is on the chopping block again this year after it lost its status as a department in last year’s budget cuts.
In June, the City Council is expected to make major cuts to close out the city’s $39 million budget gap for the 2011/2012 fiscal year.
The Neighborhood Services Division, which links neighborhoods to city issues and events and works with residents on local concerns, could lose two full-time employee positions to budget cuts. While two positions may seem like a low number, the division has only seven employees, according to Vincene Jones, Neighborhood Services manager.
In last year’s budget process, the Neighborhood Services Department became a division of the Parks and Recreation Department, two staffers were laid off and Jones’ title changed from department director to division manager. In recent years, Neighborhood Services’ staff has been cut from 16 employees to seven, Jones said.
Cuts to the division are recommended by Interim City Manager Bill Edgar and Interim Deputy City Manager Betty Masuoka.
“We support every neighborhood association that comes to us and doesn’t come to us,” Jones said. “We support every department, including mayor and council. It will be a decrease in our level of service, and that’s unfortunate.”
Jones declined to identify the employees who may be laid off. She said she thinks the position cuts will result in at least one layoff. Jones said she was unsure of how the second position cut will play out.
“It hurts, and it is the hard part,” Jones said, referring to the potential layoffs.
The city would save $140,556 by making cuts to the division, the text of the proposed budget states.
The cuts would scale back the division’s services “to the City Council, city departments and community organizations on a variety of projects, events, initiatives and collaborations,” according to the budget’s text.
Michael Moore, 52, a UC Davis Medical Center employee and member of the Boulevard Park Neighborhood Association, asked whether the division could be effective with a staff of five.
“As a recent graduate of the '11 City Management Academy sponsored by the Neighborhood Services Division, I'm extremely aware of the already-diminished services several years of increasing budget, and staffing cuts have caused citywide,” Moore said in an email Tuesday.
“Certainly the loss of two more (full-time positions) would only add to the reduced impact of this vital city department, and might bring into question whether the city can efficiently and pragmatically continue to provide the range of services Sacramentans have come to expect (if not demand) of our tax-supported municipal government. When does a department become so small as to be functionally useless?”
Read a list of the budget hearings here.
Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.