Huntington Beach

Early retirement to balance budget

A BUDGET calling for a 5 percent payroll cut was approved by the Huntington Beach City Council Monday night (Shutterstock).

The budget axe, sharpened by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout, will fall on employees of the City of Huntington Beach.

At Monday night’s meeting of the city council, a plan to cut the payroll by 5 percent was approved along with the municipal budget for 2020-21. The reductions will come through a “Self-Designed Separation Initiative” to encourage early retirement as well as other budget-balancing measures to eliminate what City Manager Oliver Chi called a $6.2 million structural deficit.

The budget and staff reduction plan was approved on a 5-2 vote, with Mayor Lyn Semeta and Erik Peterson voting no. A proposal to adjust the budget to reassign two of three funded but unfilled positions in the police department to the city’s homeless task force will be considered by the council at its Nov. 2 meeting.

Huntington Beach, like most cities across the nation, has been hit by a major loss in tax revenue as stores, hotels, eateries and bars have been closed,

The total budget approved for the new year is $358,975,051 and reflects a $20 million loss in revenue from the previous year.

Chi told the council “There is a lot of uncertainty right now,” but added “we can expect an uneven economic recovery for two to three years.” He noted that unemployment was still at Depression-era levels and the number of people seeking jobless benefits was over 19 million.

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