HAYWARD -- Arts and culture programs, as well as the 211 social service hot line, were spared Tuesday as city leaders tentatively approved a budget balanced in large part on employee concessions and staff reductions.
City Manager Fran David presented the City Council with a dire forecast for the immediate and long-term future. To stay in the black, Hayward needed to chop $20.6 million from the $118 million general fund for the next fiscal year, with further cuts needed down the line.
"In the past, we'd look at the budget and the city manager would say that this is an unusual situation, and we'll get by," Councilman Bill Quirk said. "I have to give credit to (David) for telling us that this is not unusual, this is the way things are and we need to make changes. It's a tough message she has given us."
The largest source of agreed-upon cuts comes from the city's employees, who are agreeing to givebacks amounting to 13 percent of their salaries and benefits. That adds up to $8.7 million.
By reducing staff by 50 positions -- 32 of which are vacant -- the city will save nearly $5 million.
The police department is one of the hardest hit, but it obtained some reprieve courtesy of Mayor Michael Sweeney, who requested that sworn officers be reduced from 200 to 190, instead of the proposed 188.
The two positions amount to $364,000, which will be added to the $3.7 million being taken from the city's reserves of about $35 million.
Quirk cast the sole dissenting vote against the change, saying the amount is considerably larger than either the $50,000 fund for the 211 service or the $120,000 for the Community Promotions Program, which includes funding for programs such as the Hayward Arts Council, Sun Gallery, Municipal Band and Russell City Blues Festival.
Many supporters of those programs attended Tuesday's meeting.
The arts and culture funding has been jeopardized by the state's threat to eliminate redevelopment agencies. More than half the available funds are tied to redevelopment, and city officials acknowledged that they are taking a risk by promising full funding. If the redevelopment money is taken away, it will have to come out of the city's general fund, which means more reserve spending.
"If there is a (state redevelopment) take, for the next year, there will be a reduction here, and a good-size reduction," Sweeney said. "We're taking a bit of a gamble."
The 211 program -- a dial-up service that connects the needy with a gamut of social welfare programs such as housing, employment and health dare -- was spared any cuts.
Other social services will be trimmed by 17 percent in accordance with an across-the-board cut that was estimated earlier this year, something that council members said they did with great reservation and in hopes it can be restored.
The budget is scheduled for final approval at Tuesday's council meeting.