MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- Officials at the Middletown City Council meeting Tuesday will review the proposed 2014 budget and possible cuts to the city’s public safety department, according to Journal-News.
As many as 22 public safety positions are being considered for elimination by 2015, including 15 from the fire department and seven from the police department.
Journal-News reports Middletown city officials say budget projections won’t allow the city to sustain its workforce. They propose the majority of cuts come from public safety because 70 percent of the general fund is allocated to that department.
“I wouldn’t bet half a paycheck on what’s going to happen [at Tuesday’s meeting],” said Anita Scott Jones, Middletown council member. Jones said she didn’t want to speak for the other council members, but predicted “an interesting conversation.”
Council member Ann Mort said if the city continues to spend at its current pace and revenue projections are accurate, the city will be “really broke” in a few years.
“There will be no money if we continue on this course,” Mort said. “It’s got to change. Either the salaries or the people have to be cut or taxes have to be raised. Take your pick.”
President of the FOP Local 36, Cris Kelly, and vice president of IAFF Local 336, Chris Klug, are fighting the proposed cuts and rallying to save public safety jobs.
Kelly said if the cuts are made, Middletown residents could expect slower response times and the removal of some police services.
“We will be responding to crime instead of preventing crime,” Kelly said.
“We are not giving up this fight,” Klug told a crowd outside an earlier press conference. “We will not let this happen.”
City Manager Judy Gilleland said she is looking to cut the city’s fire department from 79 positions to 64 by the end of 2014.
Gilleland said the fire division employees could possibly save the positions by opting for wage and benefit reductions or changing schedules to one that is more cost effective, but the fire union has been “unwilling” to make those changes.
Gilleland is also looking to reduce the size of the police department by seven.
“We must control our spending and live within our means, like any household or family,” said Middletown Mayor Lawrence Mulligan Jr. “There are examples of cities that failed to address spending and are facing drastic cuts and bankruptcy. Due to rising personnel costs, we are spending more and getting fewer services for our dollar.”