Mayor Jerry Sanders said Wednesday he plans to have trimmed 960 employees from the city’s workforce by 2010 to help balance future budgets while whittling away at big-ticket expenses that have long gone unpaid.

Because he has ruled out tax increases to pay for the current financial problems – which include looming deficits for employee pensions, retiree healthcare, deferred maintenance – Sanders has looked to “streamline” the government’s functions that he claims were either excessive or inefficient.

“For years, the city has done the equivalent of living paycheck-to-paycheck at a level far above our means,” Sanders said as he laid out a broad overview of his five-year financial plan. He continued, “There will be incredible sacrifices for everyone.”

In addition to the projected layoffs – which he said would spare police officers, firefighters or lifeguards – Sanders also predicted that the citizens would feel a sharp pinch in level of neighborhood services they ordinarily expect. However, the mayor would not give specifics about what departments could be placed on the chopping block, saying those decisions could be made by April.

“It would be irresponsible and dishonest to stand up here and tell our citizens that their services will not be impacted,” he said.

Sanders said that, before his proposed cuts, the city’s everyday general fund would fall $794 million short of the amount needed to live up to its obligations over the next five years.

In addition to the layoffs, the mayor proposes shifting hotel-tax money away from nonprofit groups, leveraging about $100 million worth of real estate assets from sales or new leases, refinancing the bonds for Petco Park, and negotiating work furloughs or benefit concession from the labor unions. Any potential savings from the Proposition C-mandated managed competition was not taken into account.

Even with those moves, Sanders said the budget gap for the next five years totals $400 million.

For fiscal year 2008, which begins in July, Sanders projected an $87.4 million deficit. With the five-year plan’s proposed cuts, a $24.6 million shortfall remains, the mayor said.

More details about the five-year plan are expected to be released this afternoon. Stay tuned.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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