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The $12 million in wage concessions that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper is seeking from police, sheriff's deputies and firefighters next year is only a portion of the $66 million in cuts the mayor has asked the city's safety agencies to prepare for his consideration.
A cut that big likely would mean layoffs of safety personnel, although the mayor could end up shifting the burden to other agencies.
"There is no scenario I can come up with to get to that $66 million that does not affect staffing," Mel Thompson, deputy manager of safety, told City Council members Wednesday.
Ed Scholz, the mayor's director of budget and management, said all agencies have been asked to come up with ways to cut annual expenditures by about 14 percent. The mayor will review the list and decide which cuts to choose to close a $120 million budget deficit the city faces over the next 17 months.
The city will spend $416.3 million this year on safety agencies, which represents about half of operating expenditures.
"What I will tell this council is that budgeting is a very simple mathematical equation," Thompson said. "You have a number of individuals and you pay them a certain rate and it equals your budgeted amount and if you cannot get to that number, you must change one or two of those items: the number of staff or the rate you pay your staff."