City faces 'a day of reckoning'

Glendale city departments will face “a “day of reckoning” soon from the Glendale City Council as scrambling continues to put the budget for 2009-10 in balance.

City Manager Jim Starbird used the phrase to underline his intent that each department meet the need for a 5% mimum budget cut, even at a potential loss of services.

Some of the smaller departments will be reduced to further cuts in maintenance and supplies, but the two largest departments, police and fire,could face substantial reductions.

The council is looking at a cut of at least $9 million in the city spending program, but that number could increase if the state goes after more local revenue. Glendale is already prepared for a $4 million cut, to be made out of reserve funds.

On Wednesday, the council heard details about a potential reduction in the paramedic program that could save the city up to $800,000 a year when it's in place.

Fire chief Harold Scoggins said he is proposing that one of the city's five ambulances be assigned each day to a basic service for non-emergency calls. The decision on which unit to send would me made at the dispatch center, with a medical director providing triage.

Scoggins said emergency medical technicians would still be on each call for cases which become emergencies. Family members or friends would be given the opportunity to provide transport.

The fire chief told the council he is proposing the city put on the ballot a $5 per household paramedic fee, now being collected on a voluntary basis. He said he is also suggesting the city to adopt a fee structure for fire department inspections of apartment houses and businesses.

Retiring police Chief Randy Adams said his department has long since cut the fat, and is now facing “amputation.”

He passed the ball to the new interim chief, Ron De Pampa, who outlined $2.7 million in potential cuts to make up the 5% reduction. The reductions involve cutting eight sworn officers, a civilian and nine full time equivalents in overtime.

The reductions include dropping the new two-member vice unit, cutting an officer designated for arson investigation with the fire department, and dropping community-oriented policing positions, along with staffing for the Police Athletic League, explorer unit and paid hours for police reserves.

Starbird told the council that if police and fire are left without cuts, reductions in other departments could range from 12% to 20%.

Council members are expected to begin the blood letting Tuesday. A balanced budget must be adopted by the end of June.

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