The City of Sacramento has been grappling with difficult budget deficits for several years. As they created their budget solutions, every option had to be examined.

With a $40 million shortfall expected for next year, further cuts and reductions may be necessary. But if the city accepts $5 million in federal grant money for the next two years, not all options will remain on the table. That is because the grant money comes with strings attached.

The grant money would go to Sacramento’s fire department, which has suffered cuts in its operating budgets, resulting in layoffs and brown outs. However, the grants’ SAFER program, which requires that the city maintains current staffing levels, could keep the city from accepting the money.

Under a SAFER program, the city would be prohibited from reducing its fire staffing levels by any means. Should a position open up due to attrition, it would have to be filled. It would specifically forbid any new layoffs.

From the Sacramento Bee:

The mood was celebratory last week as officials announced more than $5 million in federal money for Sacramento’s strained Fire Department, allowing the hiring of 27 firefighters and ending two rotating “brownouts.”

But the money is not a done deal. The City Council must vote to officially accept the funds in the next three months.

And increasingly dire news about the city’s financial health raises questions about the wisdom in accepting federal money that has significant strings attached.

Read the full article here.