Kalamazoo City Council Approves 2012 Budget

After much adjustment, the Kalamazoo City Council has approved the 2012 city budget.

Part of the adjustment includes more than 200 city employees accepting an early retirement package.  Tuesday was the last day for those eligible to retire in 2015 to instead retire over the next two years. 

The move is expected to close a budget shortfall of $6 million a year, though city officials say a lot of experience will be walking away because of it.

The move also won't stop a few city employees from being laid-off. Mayor Bobby Hopewell says in these financial times, tough decisions have to be made.

“There are going to be challenges,” said Mayor Hopewell, “but truly an opportunity for how we deliver services, how we provide for the citizens of this community, and doing that differently and the challenges are new and in this wonderful economy of ours and this is one of the ways were facing those challenges."

More than 60 of those who chose to retire early work in the Public Safety sector of the city.

The mayor says one of the immediate challenges will be maintaining current levels of emergency response as those employees leave the workforce.