Faced with a budget deficit of $18.5 million, Mayor Bob Foster says that the city may be forced to eliminate 76 police officer positions - unless, that is, the unions are willing to make concessions. The impasse centers on a 2 percent pay raise that city officials say they can't afford. Instead of raises, Foster's proposal would credit city workers with an equal contribution to their share of pension costs. Currently, the city pays for most of the employees' share. From the Press-Telegram:
Three small unions, those representing attorneys, prosecutors and auditors, have agreed to pay freezes and pension reforms, including the creation of a new, less generous pension tier for new employees. The question is, with the police association so adamantly opposed to making concessions, and the city expecting deficits for years to come, how long could police cuts continue before someone - city officials or police representatives - gives in to the other side?
The cost crunch will only get worse in the next few years - much worse - as Long Beach, L.A. and other cities must deal with ballooning pension obligations that will eat into their general funds. Just not enough money coming in and too much going out. L.A. could very well see substantial cutbacks in police and fire.