Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said Monday he is evaluating all positions in response to information the city finance department gave him last week that the city faces a $1.5 million deficit next year.
"All jobs are on the table, including the police department," he said. "The city's unions need to get in line with the private sector, but - most importantly - the city taxpayers who are paying for the employees' salaries and benefits."
Campana said if union concessions are not made, he will be forced to lay off staff.
"Just like our own family budget at home, sometimes we must cut our expenses because the revenue is just not there," he said.
Campana said taxpayers face an anticipated 2-mill real estate tax increase if concessions are not made.
"My job is to protect them (the taxpayers)," he said, "not a few union bosses."
In jeopardy, should Campana lay off police, is a $419,000 federal COPS grant.
The grant, through the U.S. Department of Justice, pays the salaries and benefits of two city police officers for three years, with the fourth year picked up by the city.
"Layoffs in our department would impact our proposed grant," Chief Gregory A. Foresman said. "We can't use it to hire two officers because we're not at full complement."
The department is at 50 officers, with a minimum 52 necessary to accept the grant. It also must maintain the two officers hired for the term of the grant, he said.
"I've already lost a year, and I will have to ask the federal government for an extension."
Foresman said the police are in contract negotiations with the city, and their current contract ends Dec. 31.
Jim Dellomo, president of the union representing City Hall and Streets and Parks workers, noted the stark difference between what his union receives and that of the public safety staff.
"I usually don't comment," said Dellomo, a 37-year employee with Streets and Parks.
"We have a $500 deductible, and when we leave our employment after 41 years we have no health care benefits," Dellomo said.
Police Lt. Steve Helm, police union president, said contract talks have been taking place since June and have the right to bargain collectively with their municipal employers through a labor union.
"We can't go on strike," an upset Helm said. "We contribute to our pensions," he added.
Attempts to reach River Valley Transit union president Lenny Howlett but the call was not returned.