RIVERSIDE, Calif. (4/6/09)--Altura CU announced Friday that it will close two branch offices, transition a third branch to an electronic branch, and cut staff to reduce expenses. The San Jacinto branch will close May 5 and the Coachella branch will close May 7. The Corona branch will transition to electronic May 6. After the changes, the credit union will have 14 branches. The credit union also will cut 35 staff positions, representing 13% of Altura’s workforce. “All affected employees were offered severance packages, outplacement services and Altura loan modification packages to assist them in this transition,” said Altura President/CEO Mark Hawkins. Sixteen branch positions and 19 positions at Altura’s headquarters were cut. About 27 open positions at the credit union also have been eliminated over the past year, representing 20% of Altura’s work force, the credit union said. “The Inland Empire has been hit especially hard [by the economy],” Hawkins said. “The area’s high unemployment and foreclosure rates have created some real challenges for all financial institutions, and we’re no exception. Our delinquencies and losses are the highest we’ve seen in nearly three decades. Our provision costs are also up sharply. “Everyone knows these are tough times,” he continued. “And we are adopting a proactive approach to address them. Altura has a 51-year history in this community and we take this responsibility very seriously. In order to assure our future is as successful as our past, we have had to take some difficult steps to reduce our expenses.” Beginning with senior management, the credit union also has reduced benefits and compensation for all employees. Altura also estimates that its support to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund to help stabilize the corporate credit union system will cost more than $9 million. “With all these factors converging at once, reducing our expenses had to be done,” Hawkins said. Altura, Riverside, Calif., has $889 million in assets.