HOLLYWOOD (CBS4) –The City of Hollywood is making up for a 10 million dollar budget shortfall by laying off police officers and other city employees, and forced pay cuts.
In record time, the City Commission voted to lay off 13 police officers and 18 other City employees. That’s roughly 2.5 percent of the entire public workforce in Hollywood.
Every other employee took at least a 7.5 percent pay cut.
Hundreds of people crowded City Hall, including many employees who were laid off.
Many are furious with the Mayor and City Commissioners for a handful of swift votes that took jobs and cut down employee paychecks.
President of the Broward County Police Benevolence Association, Jeff Morana had 8 of the laid off officers stand during his presentation to the Commission.
“I want you to look in their faces and look at their eyes. These are the people who have a gun to their head,” he told Commissioners.
It took less than 5 minutes for the Commission to vote for police officer and general employee layoffs, and forced paycuts- including a 10-percent cut for police, and 12-percent for firefighters. The City declared financial urgency last month, contending with a 10-million dollar budget shortfall.
The officers will be out of work in just a week and a half.
“It’s not fair. Because all we do is wake up every day and put a vest on and a gun on my hip and protect the City,” said Officer Meredith Tisch with tears in her eyes. Tisch who was among those losing their jobs.
Officer Danielly Deandrade agreed while tears streamed down her face. She was also laid off. She told CBS4’s Natalia Zea, “I would take any pay cut to be here to stay here. But they don’t care.”
The unions argue the City could use Community Redevelopment Agency money to make ends meet. And they criticize commissioners for spending 600-thousand dollars on refurbishing the City’s water tower. Residents at the meeting, like Stephanie Zedo were also angry.
“We’re afraid to go on the streets now, we don’t have enough police officers out there to cover the City.”
Zea tried to talk to Mayor Peter Bober about his vote, but he declined to comment and rushed toward the door to exit the Commission chambers.
Vice-Mayor Patty Asseff spoke briefly, telling Zea, ” It’s not something any of us wanted to do, but we had to do it, it’s either that or we can’t afford to pay them.”
In a show of solidarity, the Mayor and Commission also voted for a 10-percent pay cut for themselves. But that’s not calming the unions’ anger. They promise to now take their fight against these cuts, to court.