York city council discussed for the first time Wednesday night the major cuts to public safety proposed in next year’s budget. Last month the mayor proposed to cut nearly half of the city’s police force as well as cut jobs in the fire department. It’s her plan to deal with a nearly $7 million deficit.
People are angry, upset, and in disbelief that the cuts to the police and fire departments could become a reality.
It’s estimated that 8 positions will be cut within the fire department. Chief David Michaels says 3 vacant positions will not be filled, 1 firefighter will retire, and 4 officers will be laid off. FOX43 is told negotiations with the firefighters union is ongoing. But the cost of overtime will skyrocket in order to make up for the lost positions. Overtime costs are estimated at almost $1 million. One of the firefighters who could be let go just bought a home in the city with his wife and daughter.
“We do have a house in the city now that we do have to pay for. We are city taxpayers. I was at a meeting earlier this month and mentioned this all of this before. It is a disgrace for the city to require their employees to be city residents and taxpayers but yet lay them off so now they have no income to pay their taxes for the city of York that they are required to live in,” says Tia Frederick, the wife of a firefighter expected to be laid off.
City taxpayers got up and expressed their opinion on the issue, too.
“We can not afford to lose these public servants. It’s absolutely critical to the city. One of the reasons why I bought a house in the city is because they have the city services with the fire and the police because when we pick up a phone, somebody’s there,” says James Waughtal.
The department takes roughly 45,000 to 65,000 calls every year. 34 uniformed police officers will be cut from the department. Chief Wes Kahley warned things will look very different on city streets come January 1st. He also had strong words for council.
He says, “It’s not a stab at the fire department, but next year’s budget has the potential for more firefighters to be sleeping in firehouses than police officers patrolling the streets.”
Council is scheduled to vote on the budget on Tuesday, December 16th.