Tampa City Council looking at potentially hundreds of layoffs of city staffers

Officials said that Police and firefighters could lose their jobs.

A 10 percent budget cut would lay off approximately 475 city workers, including 138 from the fire department, 130 from TPD and 86 from Parks and Rec.

Council member Harry Cohen asked that at the next budget workshop, officials from the potentially affected departments discuss what the budget cuts would do for city services. "What that would mean in terms of response times? What it would mean in terms of the services that people have come to expect when they call 911?"

Little also went over the depressing news about the city's parking fund, which going into next year will be nearly $7 million in arrears, and is projected to be just as bleak for the next five years. That increase has been known for awhile, as the debt service for the parking garages built across from the Marriott Waterside hotel and the two garages in Ybor City have now kicked in.

The revenue streams for the parking division have also slipped, with some of that attributed to the loss of parking meters, and the fact that there is a backlog of collecting fees for traffic citations. Little said that "research is under way" with other cities on how to best going about collecting those tardy fines.

The city owns 19 surface lots and 11 parking garages, and all appear to be doing poorly financially. Little said her staff is doing a complete analysis of the entire parking system in the city. Officials are considering selling some of those facilities, though it's obviously not the most opportune time to do so.

Council member Mary Mulhern asked Little to think about ways (other than selling off properties) that the city could somehow make money, perhaps by charging higher rates.

One place that the division is no doubt hurting is in Ybor City. Mayor Iorio thrilled business owners in the district years ago when she removed parking meters, but that was a reduction of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Those Ybor garages also have extremely generous rates for customers.

Tampa Finance Director Sonya Little
  • Tampa Finance Director Sonya Little

Facing a $28 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year 2012, Tampa finance director Sonya Little laid out three different scenarios of how the budget could be brought down to size, and those would include major layoffs, including for the first time since the economic downturn in Tampa, police and firefighters losing their jobs.

Though the city has laid off hundreds of workers over the years, the damage has been limited by the fact that many of the jobs cut were lost by attrition, but that wouldn't be the case moving forward. Under the worst-case scenario presented by Sonya Little, the city's finance director, a 15 percent total budget cut would eliminate 729 total positions — with just 63 of them currently vacant, including 200 from Fire Rescue, 194 from police and 165 from parks.

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