SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Facing the possibility of a nearly $20 million deficit in next year's budget, Savannah's city manager notified almost 60 city employees they're out of a job.
The job cuts affect every industry from tourism to public safety. The city manager says the move is in line with the council's strategic plan.
The mayor says most of these cuts were to positions that were duplicating city services.
The city manager cut 64 city positions. Almost half of those are vacant right now. In addition, they created 33 new jobs. They also unfroze 190 positions.
To the police department now. Twenty civilian employees lost their jobs.
Overall, they cut almost 30 positions. They have added 10 civilian jobs though, and the chief hopes to add 10 more officers to patrol downtown streets and parking garages.
The most visual difference you may notice is to the Downtown Ambassador Program. These cuts totally wipe out that department.
The city hopes to re-hire a lot of these people for the new positions.
"It might not be the position they were in, but it would be a position of equal value as far as the planning charts are concerned, but it would give those folks an opportunity to move forward in other areas," Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach said.
It's important to note these employees have not been guaranteed a new job with the reorganization.
The last day of work for these people will be Dec. 31.
"The elimination of certain staff positions was done to right-size the organization and was done according to the city's new strategic plan and the recent reorganization," said Michelle Gavin, the director of public communications for the city. "The city looked at duplication of services, both internally and externally, and the need for certain positions."
The city is also mulling over a potential fire fee as a part of its budget talks. Residents could be asked to pay an annual fee to help cover the fire departments more than $31 million budget.
Public budget hearings will be held on Dec. 7 and Dec. 21 after the city council has its workshops.
Many of the civilian police cuts are a result of the upcoming demerger of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, as well as a reaction to the Berkshire Report.
When Chatham County begins operating its own police precincts, the city will only need to man four precincts instead of six.