More than 75 city workers, including police and firefighters, are being laid off next week to meet a $2.5 million reduction in funding from the state.
Mayor James E. Harrington announced the layoffs to surprised union leaders Thursday afternoon.
The unions had met with the mayor’s staff last week and went away thinking it would be April before firm numbers were available.
“It’s a sad day,” said City Council President Tim Cruise.
“There has been a disconnect with a lot of people who really didn’t think it was going to come to this,” he said. “My heart goes out to the people and their families.”
Notices are set to go out Tuesday to affected employees, who include 20 firefighters, 10 police officers (including the six recruits laid off earlier this month), 10 civilians in the Police Department, 32 in the Laborers International Union of North America that includes clerical workers and laborers, and four to five non-union employees.
Incentives will be offered to those who are eligible for retirement. That could reduce layoffs.
There are no public library cuts and no School Department cuts at this time.
“Our contract does not allow for layoffs mid-year,” said Tim Sullivan, president of the Brockton Teachers Association.
With even more cuts anticipated for fiscal 2010, which begins July 1, councilors are warning things could get worse.
“There have to be concessions come May or June or there’s going to be more layoffs,” said Councilor-at-large Linda Balzotti, a mayoral candidate.
In other belt-tightening moves, non-union City Hall workers will be paying 40 percent of their health insurance costs and have accepted a wage freeze as of this month.
Councilor-at-large Thomas Brophy said layoffs in 1991 shut down two fire companies.
One was reinstated in 1998, the other never reinstated.
Now, he expects more fire companies to be shut down.
“The loss of any police officers and firefighters is going to have devastating effects,” he said.
The layoffs did not go as deep as expected, said Ward 3 Councilor Dennis Eaniri, but more could come.
“We’re still a far cry from the 300 layoffs projected in January, but we don’t know how next year’s budget will line up,” he said. “I’m concerned.”