Mayor Marion Barry, attempting to close the gap on a projected $170 million budget deficit this year, yesterday announced sharper reductions in city services and the elimination of 317 more jobs from the District's payroll.
In what aides called a "major address" that the mayor personally spent several days previewing to political, business and media leaders, Barry said the additional job reductions would bring to 1,540 the number to be cut from the city's work force by Sept. 30.
Barry said that inner-city residents will have streets cleaned once every six or seven weeks instead of the current four-week cycle; that citizens will have to wait longer for pothole repair, tree trimming and snow removal; that police will be slower to respond to non-emergency calls, and that city services in general will be slower.
Of the new job reductions, 158 are to come in the city's troubled public school system. Earlier, Barry had announced that 1,223 jobs would be eliminated, including 546 through layoffs. Yesterday, he reduced the number of projected layoffs to 403, saying that such a reduction would mean fewer jobs lost for lower paid and less experienced workers.
"The need for these actions is very real, very serious and of critical importance to the future of our city," Barry said. "Budget reductions can either divide a community or bring it together. I pray that we use this as an opportunity to come together."
[Barry, his wife and several leading city officials and business leaders are scheduled to leave next week on a free trip to Paris. Details on Page B1.]
On March 6, Barry released his first budget-balancing package, calling for elimination of the 1,223 jobs, $24 million in new or increased taxes and user fees, $61.8 million supplemental federal payment and $46 million in program and personnel cuts.
A hiring freeze was imposed March 1, but about 800 persons were hired during the first month of the freeze. The City Council delayed holding hearings on Barry's tax package, and Congress indicated the administration would not receive the full federal payment it had requested.
The March 6 plan also ran into strong opposition, however, when business, labor and community groups charged that it did not sufficiently reduce the size of city government, made city workers scapegoats for bureaucratic mismanagement, and cut too deeply into needed services.
Barry's latest package of job reductions and service cutbacks, called "definitive" by aides, was officially released with elaborate fanfare yesterday in a speech at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library attended by about 250 persons, many of them city workers.
The speech climaxed two days of intense efforts by Barry and top administration officials in an attempt to demonstrate that they have a handle on the budget crisis.
"For a while it kind of looked like Marion didn't know what he was doing," said one of the mayor's close political allies. "There was a general grumbling in the community about what was going on. This is probably one of the toughest issues they will face."
Said a top city official who asked not to be identified, "At the beginning, there was a tendency to put out as little information on the crisis as possible. The attitude was 'lets not wallow in the mud.' But the public began to demand that things be made clearer."
Barry acknowledged yesterday for the first time that his performance on the budget will have wide ramifications.
"Our ability to deal with this money crisis will be viewed as a test of skill," he said. "The consequences of a vast budget deficit in the District would have a terrible effect . . . both in terms of self-government authority and in terms of providing critically needed services to our citizens."
Barry said that virtually all citizens would feel some impact from the service cutbacks, from having to wait longer in line to apply for unemployment compensation to suffering unfilled potholes and dirtier streets.
"I don't have an option of taking from some and giving to others," Barry said. "In this critical situation we have to take some from all."
Other services cutbacks outlined yesterday include:
A 25-percent cutback in new book purchases at the public library.
Decreased enforcement of traffic violations, caused by the loss of an additional 51 positions in the police department, bringing the total number of police jobs eliminated to 130.
Slower inspections of construction sites.
Fewer programs for inmates at Lorton Reformatory and the D.C. jail.
Barry has already announced reductions in homemaker and day-care services, the closing of 10 recreation centers and the loss of around 500 summer jobs for D.C. youth.
There were immediate indications that the new plan will run into trouble. City Council Finance Committee Chairman John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), who favors deeper cuts in the city bureaucracy, said the measures were inadequate and said he will actively oppose Barry's tax package, which must be approved if the budget is to be balanced.
"I'm not going to support any tax increases at this point," said Wilson, whose committee will begin hearing on the taxes today.