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Layoffs of 35 city cops avoided

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Thirty-five police jobs were saved from proposed layoffs after the Sacramento Police Department received a waiver on a federal grant that funds officer positions, spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong confirmed late Tuesday night.

The number of proposed layoffs in the 2011/2012 budget for Sacramento police officers has dropped from 81 to 46.

The City Council will vote next week on proposed budget cuts that include layoffs of cops and other Police Department staffers. Council members were weighing whether to lay off 81 police officers, but the grant waiver means they will decide whether to lay off 46 officers. The council will also choose whether to lay off 68 civilian police department staffers – those proposed cuts were not affected by the federal grant waiver.

The city is facing a $39 million budget gap for the 2011/2012 fiscal year.

"This grant exemption is a positive in an otherwise difficult budget year,” Police Chief Rick Braziel wrote in a Tuesday night press statement. “We are thankful for the quick approval of this grant exemption, which would not have been possible without the efforts of Bernard Melekian from the Department of Justice, the support of Congresswoman Doris Matsui and the hard work of our police staff.”

Meanwhile, Interim Deputy City Manager Betty Masuoka told the City Council at a Tuesday night budget hearing that she had no update on any labor concessions from city unions. Despite the standstill, “staff continues to have an open door” to negotiations with city unions, she said.

In addition, the city could still negotiate with the unions for possible concessions after the budget is approved, Masuoka said.

While Councilman Darrell Fong, a retired police captain, has said he intends to vote for the police cuts, he announced at Tuesday’s council meeting that he would redirect his City Council salary for the 2011/2012 fiscal year to the Police Department’s budget.

The base pay for Sacramento City Council members is $60,800 annually.

“I’m hopeful as we continue between now and next week to keep having discussions and hope to get to a better place,” Mayor Kevin Johnson said at the meeting.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. 

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