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Chula Vista Looks To Prop. H And Union Concessions To Avoid Deeper Cuts

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Chula Vista, San Diego’s second largest city, is looking at more major cuts to public services in the next budget. Much depends on the result of labor negotiations and a utility tax increase on next month’s ballot.

Chula Vista, San Diego’s second largest city, is looking at more major cuts to public services in the next budget. Much depends on the result of labor negotiations and a utility tax increase on next month’s ballot.

Chula Vista’s City Manager Jim Sandoval says unless city employee unions agree to pay their full share of pension contributions, accept a two tier pension system for new hires and forgo pay raises, the city will have to cut services and lay off an additional 70 people.

More than 100 employees have already lost their jobs as a result of the budget cuts, and city staff now number under 1,000.

Chula Vista failed to get voter support for a sales tax increase last year that would have raised $20 million a year. This year, voters are being asked to approve a telecommunications tax worth up to $6 million annually.

The city argues Proposition H simply updates a utility tax that’s been collected for 40 years. Opponents say the measure extends the scope of the tax, and wireless customers will see increases of up to 5 percent on their bills.

In the worst case scenario -- if Prop. H fails and labor groups don’t make concessions -- Sandoval says Chula Vista may have to lay off 150 more staff, and close the Eastlake Library, Parkway Pool, Memorial Bowl and two recreation centers.

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