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Tacoma residents face cuts to everything from library hours to fire service

Tacoma’s City Council will vote this afternoon to slash the city budget by 15 percent - with cuts to pretty much everything, including the police and fire departments.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax took the job in February from San Antonio, Texas. He says he knew Tacoma had some cutting to do – but as he dug into the numbers, he realized spending was deeply out of whack and anticipated revenue was not there.

The housing slump continues to hurt property tax revenue,and  money from sales tax hasn’t bounced back. Broadnax says Tacoma had been trying to put off cuts for years.

"We probably should have been getting after our deficit management over the last three to four years in much smaller bites," Broadnax said.

Broadnax’s budget for the next two years had to close a $63 million shortfall. That means eliminating more than 200 jobs. Some are open positions that the city just won’t fill. And the city’s persuaded some people to take early retirement so not as many employees will be laid off.

But the cuts will be noticeable everywhere – library hours are getting cut, parks will get mowed less frequently, and a fire station at the port will close. Broadnax says Tacoma has to focus on core services, and this will get the city back to a more realistic budget.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.