BARSTOW • The Barstow City Council authorized the elimination of one position and the city may be looking at eliminating others. The Council approved the termination of Community Development Director Brent Morrow's contract at a special meeting Thursday.

When asked what positions may be eliminated, City Manager Richard Rowe said it was premature to say anything beyond what was reported out from the closed session meeting. Due to economic pressures to the city, Rowe is developing a plan to reorganize departments, according to a written statement. Any cuts to positions beyond Morrow's are still being negotiated, Rowe said.

Morrow's contract could have been terminated at any time either by the city or by Morrow himself, according to Assistant City Manager Martin Piñon, who is in charge of personnel issues at the city. Even though he would not say on record why Morrow's position was eliminated, Piñon said the city would save approximately $136,000 by ending his contract.

According to the written statement, Rowe's final plan will be submitted to the City Council for approval.
"In the end it may be that no one is eliminated," Piñon said.

Staff at City Hall and the Public Works Department declined to comment on the issue.

According to the city, its fiscal condition is a result of the ailing economy, which has caused sales and property tax revenues to decrease. California's raiding of $1.3 million in property taxes from Barstow's Redevelopment Agency fund added additional pressure to the city's budget, City Spokesman John Rader wrote in an e-mail Thursday.

According to a City Council presentation made Aug. 4 by Finance Director Terri Willoughby, California took $1.7 billion from Redevelopment Agency funds statewide when it passed its budget.

The city faced a deficit of $1.5 million this year and was able to reduce it by $1.2 million, Rader said. When drafting the budget, the city made a 5 percent cut to all departments and left seven vacant position sunfilled, he said. Rowe also transferred $340,000 from the city's financial reserves, Rader said.

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(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com