130 Omaha city employees facing layoffs

Omaha, NE – Omaha plans to lay off 130 employees, delay a Police recruit class and suspend the Department's helicopter operation to save money.

Last week, city officials announced that the 2009 budget deficit has grown to $12 million. Mayor Jim Suttle says that's forced him to make additional cuts. The 130 employees being laid off are 45 full-time and 85 part-time civilian employees. They'll be laid off immediately, and city officials estimate that'll save $750,000 to $1 million.

The Police recruit class scheduled for November will instead happen in January. Also, the Department's helicopter operation will be grounded effective September sixth for the rest of the year. Those two moves will save $631,000.

Suttle says he didn't want to lay off employees, but the city has few money-saving options left. A wage freeze is still being negotiated with the unions, but no agreement is in place. That freeze could save $5 million. If it doesn't happen, Suttle says additional layoffs and furloughs are a possibility.

An $11 million deficit is projected in the 2010 budget year. Suttle wants the City Council to pass an entertainment tax to raise $10 million. But so far that option hasn't received much support from Omaha's seven Council members.