CATHEDRAL CITY — The City Council spent nearly five hours Wednesday discussing how to reconcile a projected $5.2 million deficit that could include cutting 33 city jobs, including several fire and police positions, which initially unnerved Councilmember Mark Carnevale.

The former mayor said when he first saw projected cuts, he was “really, really shocked, really nervous …  was just really frightening.”

After reflecting on the situation, giving it some “really serious thought,” talking to some colleagues, and talking to some staff, Carnevale said the city has reserves,

‘The last thing on my list is to lay people off and to make serious changes that we might not need down the road,” Carnevale said. “So I would like just to say that my goal with this budget reduction is to see how many people we can keep employed, how many positions we can see open. (It’s) not only good for the employees, but it’s good for the city. We got to keep operating. We got to keep still moving forward. We can’t lose police officers or fire department or engineering, financial, we just can’t do that.”

The staff report recommends reducing 33 positions citywide, seven (7) of which are sworn positions in the fire department.

These staff reductions along with other operational budget cuts in the fire department will result in a 13.31% budget reduction ($1,759,409) for the 2020/2021 budget beginning July 1, 2020, according to Blake Goetz, Interim Fire and Emergency Services Administrator.

One active duty police officer’s job is on the line.

“We just can’t cut bait …, Carnevale told his colleagues. “We have to stay focused. My personal opinion, I think this is going to pass. I think we’re going to rise again, and when I say rise, the United States. The economy, I think things will get back to normal again, Unprecedented times, and we hear that a lot. But I think this is a long-term serious problem with short term, certain serious problems. So right now we’re just trying to stay focused, trying to keep the doors open, but in the meantime, we owe the people that helped us get us here. The staff, the police department, the Council, everybody worked together to get this far. I’m just not sure if cutting and replacing and shortened hours is the proper things to do. So with that being said, Mr. Mayor, I just wanted to share my thoughts.”

Budget talks continue Monday, June 22nd at 8 a.m.

Image Sources

  • Mark Carnevale: Cathedral City video