It's time to join Willamette Week in pointing out some reporting by the Portland Tribune on just how many current city employees will actually lose their jobs, according to the city budget just tentatively approved this morning. Turns out, though the city is losing close to 200 positions, just more than two dozen workers will actually lose their jobs.
The Trib offered this in a short piece last night:
City officials estimate that Mayor Charlie Hales’ 2013-14 budget will result in 26 actual layoffs, which means most of the proposed 194 lost city positions in the budget will come via retirements and eliminating vacancies.
No layoffs will be needed in the police and fire bureaus, according to the latest estimate provided by Hales' spokesman Dana Haynes. The hardest-hit agencies will be the water, environmental services and finance bureaus.
That's not unexpected. Bureaus have been holding jobs vacant for months to keep spending down. The city also offered a retirement incentive program—offering to pick up high health care costs that sometimes dissuade people from quitting before they're Medicare eligible—that was more successful than expected.
The city sent me a chart earlier this month (reported here) showing some 73 workers taking the perk—with 17 cops and seven firefighters. That's a big chunk of the 182.5 positions Mayor Charlie Hales was looking to cut.
A few days later, the Bureau of Human Resources told me one more police officer accepted, bringing the final total to 74 citywide and 18 within the police bureau. Because of vacancies, the police bureau had only ever been looking at maybe two dozen or so layoffs at most.
But none of this should obscure the fact that, in a perfect world, bureaus wouldn't be cutting those jobs. Or holding any of them vacant. There'd be tax dollars (either from dramatic tax increases or deregulation-inspired growth; pick your confirmation bias!) to support a host of services that everyone pretty clearly thinks are important and unfortunate to face the cleaver.