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Police and fire could freeze its positions

Ben Godar

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,

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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.

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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

deployments.

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

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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

be eliminated.

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“If I’ve got to cut dollars, I can’t justify not training people

in our department while training people outside the department,”

Davis said.

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

personnel.

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

fingerprint fees.

Because the department is, on average, down about 10 positions,

Hoefel said freezing the positions shouldn’t make much of a

difference.

“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

said.

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

negative effect.”


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