The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday approved budget adjustment plans to balance the city’s $2.9 million shortfall for 2010.

Previous budget estimates were “not pessimistic enough,” Assistant Finance Director Bob Samario said.

Santa Barbara is facing decreased tax revenues and didn’t get an expected $451,000 grant for the police force, which contributed to the shortfall.

The police department is working to fill nine vacant positions, as there is no police academy in the fall. The department has a full patrol staff, but the rest of the organizational structure has shifted a bit, with many members are doing more than one job. Answering calls with a patrol car maintains a first priority, Chief Cam Sanchez said.

Staff measures to close the shortfall avoided using General Fund reserves and layoffs. Many departments are holding vacant positions, raising or adding fees, using workers compensation rebates, reducing hourly staff hours and more.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at

Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at