[This was originally posted on Friday afternoon at 3:30, but thanks to the lively comments thread, we're moving it up.]
This afternoon, Mayor Mike McGinn sent city departments a document detailing targets for the number of senior-level positions they will need to eliminate or reclassify in order to reach the 200 senior-level positions he wants to cut.
Among the departments that could take the biggest hits: The Office of Sustainability and the Environment, which is targeted to lose three of its seven senior positions (a possible prelude to a widely rumored reorganization in which sustainability functions will be distributed throughout city departments); the Department of Planning and Development, which is targeted to lose 14 of its 48 senior positions (DPD staffing has already taken a major hit in recent years, as development fees that fund much of its staffing have dried up); Seattle City Light, which is targeted to lose 46 of 157 senior positions; and Seattle Public Utilities, which is targeted to lose 43 of 201 senior positions.
Although McGinn said he needed to cut 200 positions to help fill an estimated $40 million shortfall in the city's general fund, about half of the potential cuts he is proposing wouldn't impact the general fund at all. Those include the 89 utility managers mentioned above, as well as some portion of the cuts at the Seattle Department of Transportation (35 out of 111 senior positions, some of which are funded through the Bridging the Gap levy), the aforementioned fee-funded DPD positions, and possibly some pension and retirement positions, some of which are funded outside the general fund.
It's unclear what impact cutting so many utility positions will have on both service levels and utility rates. Employees at the utilities reportedly believe the cuts will mean substantial, programmatic changes at both utilities. This afternoon, City Light director Jorge Carrasco sent an email outlining the potential cuts to City Light employees. The text of the email, in its entirety, was: "Sorry."
I have a call in to McGinn spokesman Mark Matassa about why the potential cuts include so many non-general-fund positions.
Matassa says, "It may be that these numbers don't end up exactly like this, that the mayor sees after talking to the directors that these aren't the numbers that need to be cut.
"It's the very beginning of a process. Of course people are concerned about their jobs. The mayor's concerned for them and values the workforce," but sees the cuts as necessary, Matassa says.