SPOKANE, Wash – Facing a $10 million dollar budget shortfall, Spokane Mayor David Condon proposed a no-growth budget for 2013, which meant steep cuts to city services.
Among them, 100 positions were eliminated throughout the city. The Mayor says 65 of them were already vacant, and a number of others included people who retired, who left the city, or found another job within the city, so only 14 would be laid off. Those positions would be spread throughout the city, in parks & rec, municipal court, human services, parking and general administration.
However, it's the 23 firefighter and 21 police positions that are being eliminated that are causing some buzz.
Again, the positions are vacant, so the Mayor says there are no layoffs to police and fire. However, their budgets are shrinking by roughly $2 million dollar apiece.
"As the mayor indicated, there are less revenues to continue to provide service to the community, and when you face that, you don't have any option but to make reductions," Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams told KHQ.
Changes will be coming to Fire Station 9, on 17th & Bernard on Spokane's South Hill. The engine is being cut, meaning crews will be there to respond to medical calls. But, for fires, surrounding fire stations will have to help cover the area.
"We feel confident that if everybody is in the fire station the coverage that we would have from the other stations would still meet our performance measures of 8 minutes and 30 seconds 90% of the time," Chief Williams said.
Mayor Condon said if more revenue comes in next year than is predicted, he'd make it a priority to add money back into the budgets for police and fire.
The City Council is voting on these proposed cuts right now, at a meeting that began at 6:00 tonight.