Citing Connecticut budget cuts that have reduced New Haven’s state aid package by $2.6 million, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. announced Wednesday that the city will eliminate 177 jobs from its payroll.
Seventy-nine full-time city employees — 12 of whom are employed by the Board of Education — will be laid off this Friday, he said. Twenty New Haven police officers will receive early retirement. Twenty-six part-time employees will also be laid off by the Board of Education, as will 19 full-time workers whose salaries are funded by grants. The other positions to be eliminated are not currently filled.
Once implemented, the layoffs will contribute to a 9 percent total reduction in the city work force over the past seven months.
DeStefano said this reduction is the first set of layoffs to be implemented by the city since 1991. It is also the first time that the city has asked the Board of Education and the police union to make personnel cuts, he said.
Alderman Phil Waldman, chairman of the finance committee, said the layoffs were inevitable given the recent reductions in state aid to New Haven, which makes up half of the city’s budget. The city began the year with a $1.2 million cut in state aid, and in November lost another $1.4 million.
“We are no longer trimming the fat,” Waldman said. “We have done our share at the local level — [and] have no choice given state aid.”
DeStefano said layoffs were necessary not only because of the recent cuts in state funding, but also because of the likelihood of further reductions in state aid.
“We’ve taken hits in our principal source of income twice now and we’re looking at additional hits,” he said. “To not act would be foolish.”
The mayor said another round of proposed state budget cuts could result in a further reduction of anywhere from $10 to $18 million in state funding to the city this year.
New Haven currently receives $188.1 million, or 54 percent of its revenue, from the state of Connecticut. The other major source of revenue for the city is property taxes, which DeStefano increased in the past year.
But despite higher taxes, recent increases in the city’s tax collection rate and attempts at cutting expenses, DeStefano said cuts in state aid meant that layoffs are “the only way to keep the budget in balance.”
He faulted the Connecticut state legislature, which authorized the November reductions in state aid to municipalities, for not having a “bigger vision” for improving the state’s economy.
“There’s nothing I see being talked about by Democrats or Republicans in the General Assembly that speaks to the needs of growing jobs in Connecticut,” he said. “It seems we’re on track to raise taxes, cut services, and not grow the economy.”
DeStefano said he decided which jobs to eliminate by asking city managers to identify positions that were “non-essential” to their departments. The cuts were not based on seniority, he said. He added that employees to be laid off will be notified Friday by the Department of Human Resources. They will receive two weeks’ severance pay and all benefits demanded by their contracts, he said.
The mayor urged the state to consider the economic effects on cities when contemplating future revisions to its budget.
“When you cut state aid to municipalities, you affect our ability to put cops on the street, you affect our ability to keep our libraries open, you affect our ability to create a civil, orderly positive environment,” he said. “You’re dramatically harming these communities.”