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Financial Control Board Considers Package of Job Cuts for Washington

August 13, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A federal control board on Saturday recommended reducing the District of Columbia’s work force by about 9,700 positions, mostly by laying off several thousand people and eliminating vacant jobs.

Under the plan, some 3,770 workers could lose their jobs. The board also recommended elimination of about 2,980 unoccupied positions. And a new accounting system will restructure the city’s payroll so that 2,470 federally-paid city workers and employees at D.C. General Hospital and the Department of Public and Assisted Housing are no longer counted.

The city’s work force would thus be streamlined to a ceiling of 35,681 full-time jobs _ down from 45,378 in this year’s payroll. That downsizing also reflects nearly 500 jobs that the city had already cut in an effort to bridge a $722 million budget deficit this year.

``We suggested a ceiling of (jobs) and we have accomplished that,″ said Andrew Brimmer, chairman of the presidentially-appointed D.C. Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority.

The board’s final recommendations to Congress reflect the D.C. Council’s cuts and Mayor Marion Barry’s suggestions for downsizing, but go further by proposing 920 university, administration and unspecified job cuts.

``If the changes we have described come through, we will not only have a balanced budget, but maybe a small surplus,″ said Brimmer.

But the order for deeper cuts than approved by city officials agitated Council Chairman Dave Clarke.

``We thought we had met their recommendations,″ he said.

The council last month had proposed to the control board the elimination of 8,207 jobs through a combination of layoffs, retirement incentives and contracting private companies to handle some city functions, Clarke said.

City officials have until fiscal year 1997 to cut the positions and layoff employees, said John Hill, executive director of the control board. But a commitment from the city council about how it will make the additional cuts recommended by the board is due on Capitol Hill before Congress votes on the city’s total 1996 budget next month.

``If they don’t do that by the middle of September, we would do it,″ Brimmer said.

After hours of public testimony, the board also approved a fiscal 1996 spending cap of $4.96 billion _ down from the $5.28 billion budget the city sent to Congress earlier this year.

Union workers asked that the board reach its job-cutting goals by firing non-residents of the city and contracting out employees and middle managers. Some residents also complained that they don’t want to lose hard-won city services when the work force is reduced.

``Job losses mean unpaid rent and mortgages, with drug dealers replacing soccer games and children riding bicycles,″ said longtime city resident Dona Burney. ``I know that job losses to my neighborhood can shatter the fragile economic progress.″