Camden gets permission to lay off 383 city workers

November 30, 2010 8:30:57 PM PST
Camden received the state's permission on Tuesday to lay off nearly half of its police force and about one-fourth of all city government employees.

Under the plan approved by the state Civil Service Commission, the layoffs could begin Jan. 18. Retirements could reduce the number, and city officials are hoping to reduce it further by winning concessions from workers' unions.

Camden, a city of fewer than 80,000 near Philadelphia, consistently ranks as one of the most impoverished places in the country. Last week, an analysis by CQ Press found it was the second-most crime-ridden city in 2009; it was first the previous year.

With hardly any tax base, it relies heavily on state aid to keep the municipal government running. During a state budget crisis this year, that aid was reduced.

Most city workers took unpaid furlough days every Friday for six months, ending this month. City officials have pushed police and firefighters unions, which did not take furloughs, to agree to concessions. The unions have been reluctant to do so, though.

Without them, those public safety departments face the deepest cuts.

The plan calls for 180 officers and 20 dispatcher positions to be eliminated from a force of 375, including civilian workers.

Sixty-seven firefighters - or one-third of the force - also face layoffs.

The state approval was first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Other New Jersey cities are facing similar problems. In Newark on Tuesday, for instance, 167 police officers have been laid off.


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