ATLANTIC CITY - Days before 93 layoffs are set to take place throughout the city, union leaders and city officials are still meeting in an attempt to save jobs.
"Even at this late hour, we're trying to look into scenarios that may open up some type of a window which can alleviate the layoffs," Business Administrator Michael Scott said. "We're going to keep trying."
Union representatives met with city representatives Thursday and Friday and were expected to meet again today, PBA President David Davidson Jr. said.
Layoff notices were received this month by 40 police officers, 30 firefighters and 23 other city employees, letting them know that their last day of work would be Thursday.
The city set Sept. 30 several months ago as the date the layoffs would take effect.
Scott said the unions have had nine months to try to work out something so the jobs could be spared, but have not brought anything to the table.
"Now, here we are at 11:55 and everything takes place at midnight," he said.
In June, 20 police officers lost their jobs and 30 others were scheduled for demotions, although a few of the superior officers - including Chief John Mooney - retired rather than take a pay cut. The total salaries for those laid off was nearly $1.2 million. The savings from the demotions could not be calculated because the city did not provide new salaries for each superior officer.
As their final day of work nears, Davidson said he has been impressed by the young officers.
"They come to work every day full of energy, full of honor and the professional wisdom to do their jobs," he said. "They still will come in and work until the very moment they hand in their guns and their badges."
Davidson said he has been accused of just sticking up for his officers, but he argued that the city already does not have enough police on the streets and that losing another 40 will only make things worse.
He also questioned how Mayor Lorenzo Langford could be out of the country while final work is being done to try to save some of the jobs.
"I know he's a busy man, but when it comes to the budget, he should be sitting in these meetings," Davidson said.
As for the Fire Department, without the cuts, Ladder 3 out of the station at Annapolis and Atlantic avenues has been out of service for months, and another company usually shuts down each shift as well without enough manpower to properly staff it, Chief Dennis Brooks has said. He estimated that the loss of 30 additional firefighters would mean at least two companies would close each shift and - under some circumstances - as many as four of the 11 companies could close.
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