The plan - to be presented to U.S. bankruptcy court as its "pendency plan" and serve as a financial plan for fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14 if passed - aims to erase a $45.8 million deficit through a combination of cuts and deferred payments.
While previous cuts the council has approved since announcing its intention to file for bankruptcy involved several rounds of delays and piecemeal changes, several council members said they do intend to pass this plan soon.
"There is a lot to digest here," said Councilwoman Wendy McCammack. "I don't think there's any intention of picking it apart line by line, but I think that since it is the course we're charting for the next couple of years that we (should) consider it seriously."
Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury told city officials at the last bankruptcy hearing that they needed to file a document by Nov. 30 that should incorporate ideas from the plan.
City officials and consultant Michael Busch outlined the cuts in a 12-page plan council members received last week, in contrast to earlier documents of close to 100 pages.
The elimination of positions for 18 officers who've left since summer - when an earlier plan eliminated positions that were vacant at that time - may look drastic on paper, but it reflects current staffing levels, said Police Chief Robert Handy. That would leave the department with 260 sworn officers, in addition to unsworn positions such as police dispatchers.
"We're basically already there, and we're doing OK," Handy said.
"We're at 270 today in sworn personnel, and we have about 13 people unavailable due to a variety of issues - medical and other things," Handy said.
Another portion of the plan would eliminate constant staffing - the requirement that a minimum number of firefighters be at every station at all times - which would reduce overtime by 35percent and save a projected $921,375 for the rest of the fiscal year.
The plan got the blessing of Chief Paul Drasil as well as several officials backed by the fire union, once they established that the plan still anticipates always having three firefighters on every fire engine at every station. Future council action could change that, but the plan is to fully staff stations, said Interim City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller.
Savings are projected to come from having a bank of "floater" firefighters - a batch of six new hires at first - meaning existing firefighters wouldn't need to extend their shifts to cover colleagues who are sick or on vacation.
"So without the formal requirement of constant manning, we'll have constant manning," said City Attorney James F. Penman, receiving a nod from Drasil. "This is a good proposal in my humble opinion... This is what some of us have been arguing for for years."
In September, the council made what they called drastic cuts - intended to be 30 percent for all departments - then made nine amendments, followed by a compromise plan for the Fire Department.
Busch, the president of consulting firm Urban Futures, calculated the savings from those cuts so far are $9.3 million, far less than the council expected.
Most of the difference comes from civil service rules setting timelines for layoffs and other delays, Busch said.