Police and fire officials recommended freezing positions and reducing
training as primary ways to cut their budgets, and city officials are
optimistic that more drastic measures, like closing a fire station,
won’t be necessary.
Most departments were asked to present plans to reduce their
budgets by 10% because the city needs to cut $9.5 million in order
to have a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year.
At last week’s budget hearing before the City Council, Fire Chief
Mike Davis outlined reductions of 6.7% for his department. He said
reaching a 10% cut would involve closing a fire station and reducing
Police Chief Thomas Hoefel described 4% in cuts from his
department, saying City Manager Mary Alvord did not direct him to
plan for a 10% reduction.
While Financial Services Director Derek Hanway said it would be up
to the council to decide if police and fire officials will need cuts
beyond the levels they outlined, he said it was unlikely they would
be asked to cut a full 10%.
The cuts proposed by fire officials include freezing 11
firefighter positions and cutting training activities, including some
rescue training for the public. For instance, some fire-pre- vention
training and safety instruction for school district personnel would
“If I’ve got to cut dollars, I can’t justify not training people
in our department while training people outside the department,”
All of the frozen positions are vacant or are expected to be. With
91% of the department’s budget in salaries and benefits, Davis said
it would be impossible to make significant cuts without reducing
The proposed reductions would cut $1.1 million of the department’s
total $19-million budget.
In addition to six already frozen entry-level police officer
positions, Hoefel recommended freezing two more jobs and eliminating
another two. Both frozen positions would be records technicians,
while a forensic specialist and county probation officer would be
eliminated. Each of the positions is vacant except for the probation
officer, a position partially funded by the department.
Hoefel also proposed raising fees collected by police, including
adoption fees at the Burbank Animal Shelter, film-permit fees and
Because the department is, on average, down about 10 positions,
Hoefel said freezing the positions shouldn’t make much of a
“We’re doing a better job of recruiting, so there will be people
ready to take these positions as soon as they become available,” he
The proposed reductions would shave about $1.2 million from the
department’s annual budget of about $27 million.
Davis said the plans presented to the council were not cut in
stone, and the Fire Department might prepare a three-tier reduction
process for future consideration. Whatever cuts are eventually made,
he said every department in the city will be asked to do its part.
“People expect libraries, they expect parks -- we’re all going to
be negatively affected,” he said. “I hope it will not be a major