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Layoffs Possible With Historic Civic Closure

Department heads say they're trying to find new positions for 23 workers employed at the Civic Auditorium.

Nearly two dozen city employees could lose their jobs when the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium is mothballed this summer.

It's news City Councilman Kevin McKeown said at a recent meeting that "we should all take soberly."

Some of the 17 full-time employees currently assigned to the auditorium could chose to retire when the Civic is closed, so city officials haven't yet determined the exact number of pink slips they will dole out. There's also some hope they, along with six contract workers, can be reassigned to other positions in City Hall.

In talking about whether to spend city money to fix a corroding public sculpture just outside the Civic, McKeown continued, "the saddest thing to me... is the news that first time since 1992 the city is going to let employees go."

The Civic will shutter indefinitely on June 30 because of escalating financial problems.

In particular, the city was hit hard by the Legislature's abolition of local redevelopment agencies. Grappling with the loss, the City Council put some capital improvement projects initially designated as redevelopment agency projects on the budget the back burner.

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That included the planned $51.9 million renovation of the historic Civic Auditorium. And, with city officials working to avoid a budget deficit, the council said there was not enough money to keep the doors open either.

See also: Film Market Exec Tells Santa Monica to Keep Its Promises

"As a result, all Civic staff positions will be eliminated," Donna Peter, the city's irector of human resources, wrote in a Jan. 17 memo to the City Council.

In the spring of 2011, the number of Civic staffers was at 27. Nine of those employees have since repositioned to other city jobs. One retired, according to Peter.

"Moving forward, every effort will be made to assist with transitioning the remaining 23 employees impacted by the closing of the Civic," she wrote in the memo.

The now-defunct redevelopment agency was once supported by 30 staffers members who worked in various City Hall departments, including housing, planning, public works for the city manager’s office. Some of those staffers are now working in positions funded by the city's general fund; others' salaries are covered by some leftover money from the redevelopment fund.

Two staffers are assigned to capital projects that, unlike the Civic, got underway before redevelopment was dissolved.

"Once the work has been completed, continued funding of these positions will depend on the availability of new capital project funds," said Finance Director Gigi Decavalles.

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