Hundreds of workers for city will be jobless

ATLANTA --- An expected $140 million shortfall forced Georgia's capital city Thursday to begin laying off hundreds of workers, and Mayor Shirley Franklin proposed a property tax increase to shore up the city's fragile budget.


By Monday, 441 workers from nearly every city department are expected to lose their jobs, while 347 vacant positions will be eliminated. The largest cuts are in the city's public works, police and fire departments, although Ms. Franklin said the cuts won't include reductions of sworn police officers.

"We are saddened that we are in a position where families' lives are disrupted because of a loss of employment," Ms. Franklin said during a meeting Thursday.

The cuts will save the city about $54 million.

Ms. Franklin presented city council members on Wednesday the property tax proposal -- which she said would be a "last resort" but would fill city coffers with an extra $40 million. The exact percentage of the increase was not released..

City council members said they would refuse to pass a tax increase, although they must decide by June 30 whether to approve the plan. Instead, some council members said the city's revenue should be better managed.

"You need to monitor city departments better, so you know where the waste is," council member C.T. Martin said.