At the Orinda City Council meeting Tuesday night, union members and representatives asked that the city council put off adoption of a city budget until alternate methods of saving money, other than through staff cutbacks, could be explored.
Both the Planning Department and the Parks and Recreation Department will be reorganized, city leaders said, and some staff positions will be cut and reduced.
Last week, Orinda employees, both union members and management, told the city council they would take a 3.1 percent pay reduction in order to save jobs and avoid a reduction in services. They also suggested adding 8 furlough days.
“With all the work that we have, I would like you to consider other ways of saving money in the planning department. I would like you to consider the changes that you could make to save jobs,” said Dorothy Dickson-Dodds, senior administrative assistant of the Orinda Planning Department.
City Manager Janet Keeter made a point to clarify that the point of these reorganizations was not to save money, but to make the departments better.
Local 856 Vice President Peter Finn also spoke at the meeting. He said that many employees were too afraid to speak for fear of retribution, which Finn said indicated that Orinda's organizational system was flawed.
“To say the least, employees are frustrated by the decision-making process; a process that completely locks them out,” Finn said.
The union asked that the cuts be delayed until all of the final numbers for the fiscal year were submitted.
“The latest numbers through May show a surplus of $970,000. Our request was simply to wait for the close of the fiscal year to see the final numbers before implementing severe cuts,” Finn said.
The City Council ultimately adopted the resolutions that reorganized the departments.
“This is a very difficult process for all of us. This is not something unique to Orinda, it’s happening in cities small and large throughout the state,” said Mayor Steve Glazer.
“We have great employees that have done great work that have served the city well, and if it was our choice, there’s no question that we would try and avoid layoffs and cuts,” Glazer said.