Modesto City Manager Greg Nyhoff will take steps to trim the city's 1,239-person work force this week with a buyout and severance package for nonunion executives, attorneys and high-ranking public safety officers.
About 50 people work in those classifications. City executives and union leaders are negotiating similar terms for all of Modesto's bargaining units, Human Resources Director Robin Renwick said.
All together, Renwick said, the city anticipates it will lose more than 100 employees to layoffs and early retirements.
Modesto must shave $2 million from its budget this spring to balance the books for the current fiscal year. It faces another $10 million drop in revenue for the budget year that begins July 1, forcing even more cuts.
The City Council on Tuesday is scheduled to vote on Nyhoff's proposal to cut spending among the unrepresented employees.
The package requires employees to take four furlough days by June 1. It prohibits employees from cashing out unused management leave, a perquisite similar to vacation time that Modesto grants to executives, managers, confidential employees and attorneys.
Employees who take the early retirement program will get one week of pay for each year they've worked for the city with a cap at $30,000.
Employees who are laid off will receive between one month and two months' pay based on how many years they've worked in City Hall.
Renwick said it's likely some employees will be laid off before June 1. That's the deadline to accept an early retirement package, too.
Police officers and firefighters can retire at age 50 and receive 3 percent of their salary for each year of service in Modesto as a pension. A pension for a firefighter with 20 years on the job in Modesto would be 60 percent of the base salary in the last year at work.
Other employees can retire at 55. Their pensions give them 2 percent of their wages for each year at work in Modesto. That percentage rises slightly for each year they work past age 55.
"There are well over 200 employees of retirement age, but that doesn't mean they have sufficient years of service or that they are personally ready to retire," Renwick said.
Hoping members accept
Union leaders from the Modesto Police Officers Association, Modesto City Firefighters Association, Modesto City Employees Association and the Modesto Confidential and Management Association have said they're working with the city on early retirement packages for their members.
Some might reject the offers.
"I'm hoping they do take them, that they see we're all in this together," said MCEA President Tom McCarthy.
Most MCEA members work in departments that are funded through user fees, such as the sewer and water departments. Those departments have relatively steady funding, which has some employees wondering why they should take part in unpaid furlough days and other cutbacks.
MCEA is scheduled to vote March 18 on the proposal.
Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2366.