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SLO Task Force calls for cuts in staffing costs

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The San Luis Obispo Fiscal Sustainability Task Force concluded months of work in an effort to help the city get its financial house in order. At the end of the final meeting, a near unanimous task force voted to approve a report that calls on the city leadership to drastically cut back on personnel expenses.

The final report released Dec. 22 declares, “Staff compensation is the largest driver of city expenses.”

Some of the highlights:

The report suggests binding arbitration be put back on the ballot and staff compensation, which is currently 80 percent of the budget, be reduced to a lower level. It also gives conditional and guarded support for the renewal of Measure Y, a half-cent sales tax that will expire unless renewed in 2014.

The report paints a bleak picture of the city’s financial future, but the document was softened in places from earlier versions. For example, “Essentially, in four years city government would exist solely to pay for compensation of city staff” was changed to “In four years’ time, that $10 million, which pays for the kinds of projects that are visible improvements to the city’s quality of life, would be devoured.”

The report goes on to suggest pursuing a two-tier pension system to reduce long-term financial drains. It also recommends reducing employee health-care benefits and finding new ways of reducing overtime costs.

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