City Officials "Disappointed" with Lawrence Mayor's Budget Cuts
Firefighters and city officials are reacting to Lawrence Mayor Dean Jessup's announcement of public safety cuts.
Jessup announced Friday that 20 EMTs and five other city employees will be laid off in an effort to close a $2 million budget shortfall. Lawrence City Councillor At-Large Tom Shevlot says he's disappointed in the decision but the mayor has the authority to make these cuts. He says the council agreed to the mayor's requests to increase ambulance fees and temporarily reduce contributions to city employees' retirement funds. Shevlot adds the mayor abandoned a proposed merger between the Lawrence ambulance service and Indianapolis EMS which would have given Lawrence between $900,000 and $1 million.
Lawrence Professional Firefighters Association Local 416 President Kris Kell says now that the EMTs are being laid off, firefighters will have to leave their engines to man the ambulances. Mayor spokesman Keith Johnson says the city will have the same level of service from the fire department but trucks will have three firefighters assigned to them instead of four. He says there will be no redution in fire trucks or fire stations.
City Councillors say they proposed a number of additional solutions to save money and avoid public safety cuts including restructuring the city's health insurance plan, selling off unused assets and privatizing the city's trash collection. Councillor At-Large Jeff Coats says most of those solutions have been vastly ignored.
The mayor's cuts go into effect October 15 and the mayor says the cuts will be extended through 2013. Shevlot says the council will continue to look for money-saving solutions and work with the fire department to help them with their extra duties.
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» Lawrence Mayor Announcing Personnel Cuts (10-5-12)