Proposed cuts to library and recreation center hours have gotten the most attention in Mayor Jerry Sanders’ proposed budget, highlighting how basic city services would shrink next year.

But not everything in the budget would shrink. The city’s payroll would actually grow by $13 million, bucking the previous two years, even though fewer workers would be drawing paychecks.

The mayor has proposed eliminating the equivalent of 188 full-time positions from the city’s operating budget while paying the remaining workers even more money as illustrated above.

Though the city has a $56.7 million deficit to close this year, its budget will actually be slightly larger next year than it is now. A key reason: The city is spending more on those remaining workers and less on supplies (such as vehicle maintenance) and services (such as those libraries).

A big chunk of the payroll increase came from the Fire-Rescue Department, where the mayor is proposing to end rolling brownouts by paying $8.7 million more in firefighters’ overtime.

In an email, mayoral spokeswoman Rachel Laing said another part of the boost comes from agreements with labor groups. After being a city employee for a certain number of years, some labor contracts require the city to increase that worker’s salary range.

In the Police Department, for example, the city has three salary ranges for 1,300 officers, the sworn position with the most people. Next year, the budget would shift 125 officers from the lowest salary range, $49,000 to $59,000, to the mid salary range, $63,000 to $76,000. The number of officers in the highest salary range would remain the same.

Laing also said the current budget had also overestimated the savings from vacant positions, so city officials made a $7.1 million increase to next year’s budget to more accurately predict vacancy savings.

Please contact Keegan Kyle directly at or 619.550.5668 and follow him on Twitter:

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