Measures eyed to closePacifica’s budget gap

City staff have narrowed the budget cuts for next fiscal year, including stopping money flow to peripheral city agencies — in an attempt to close a $1.1 million shortfall.

As a deficit hangs over the city’s 2007-08 budget, which is approximately $25 million in total, interim City Manager Bill Norton said he is looking into freezing positions, reducing employees’ hours and even closing City Hall for a week to trim the fat from an already lean budget.

City Councilman Cal Hinton said the cuts reflect a credo handed down by the council that says city departments need to be the first priority, while other shared services — including some $83,000 for the nonprofit Tides Center — may have to go.

To that end, Norton said city staff decided that not staffing an American Medical Response ambulance — used countywide — with its own emergency medical technician would save at least $80,000. Consolidating the finance director and human resources positions is also being recommended, as is reverting back to being a singular fire department instead of incorporated into the North County Fire Authority.

Hinton said that despite an estimated $700,000 in cost savings the city saw from joining the fire authority in 2003, Pacifica is now thinking that the consolidation might not save as much money as originally thought.

“We could provide much more intimate community service and reconstitute our volunteer fire department, which could cut down on overtime costs. I think it’s worth looking into,” said Hinton, who served as Pacifica fire chief for 13 years.

The cuts and the withdrawal from the fire authority will be discussed tonight in a City Council study session.

tramroop@examiner.com

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