We need your money back E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

If you're sick of hearing about Wall St. versus Main St., then get in line. The kicker is, it's going to get worse, a lot worse, before it gets any better. Atlanta, Georgia was until very recently a shining beacon of commercial development, with low rates of unemployment, and large numbers of young, skilled workers wishing to move there.

Now the mayor is begging the feds for cash and telling everyone who works for the city the bad news - everyone's getting their hours and pay cut by ten percent as an emergency measure to head off a financial collapse.

Mayor Shirley Franklin said the city's employees will have their hours and pay cut by ten percent each week until the target is met to help the city weather an expected budget shortfall between $50 million to $60 million.

That began last December and affects some 4,600 city employees. Franklin also announced an immediate hiring freeze for most city agencies and said the city will have to cut back some services, dip into its reserves for about $12 million, and make other personnel moves.

"The future prosperity of this city is tied directly to our ability to provide basic services and quality infrastructure to our citizens," Franklin wrote.

"We are at serious risk in failing in that most basic public responsibility." Atlanta police Sgt. Scott Kreher, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 623, said some officers may get discouraged by the cuts and leave the force.

"The citizens of Atlanta should be screaming at the top of their lungs," he said. The city laid off 372 employees last year as well as eliminating about 900 jobs, cutting some services, and raising fees to fill a $140 million budget gap for the current fiscal year.

Atlanta had a $41 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that ended June 30, and no relief is in site for 2009 and beyond.

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