Fresno Slashes $8.8 Million from Budget

February 10, 2009 6:26:38 PM PST
The city of Fresno is slashing nearly $9 million dollars from this year's budget, including millions from the police and fire departments. In addition, some temporary workers will lose their jobs. The city of Fresno announced the cuts from every department Tuesday to balance this year's budget shortfalls.Construction is complete on the Fresno Fire Department's Fire Station #19 but the station will no longer open in May like originally planned. That's because $200,000 dollars needed to staff it was cut from the budget. The fire department will also implement "soft-staffing" on some engines, meaning they will no longer use overtime to fill in for a 4th firefighter on each engine. Those cuts are just part of the $1.6 million cut from the Fresno fire department and the $3.1 million cut from the police department. Still, both agencies say citizens shouldn't worry about their safety. "Citizens should not expect to see an immediate impact due to this cost saving measure being implemented by Chief Bruegman and the mayor's office," said fire department spokesperson Ken Shockley.

"It's not going to have an impact on our proactive ability to continue to reduce our crime, to enhance our traffic safety. The citizens of Fresno will not see any impact in that respect," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

In the police department, more than $200,000 will be saved by restructuring the "Mayor's Gang Prevention Initiative" program. The city is also canceling an order for 5 more police cars, saving another $250,000.

City manager Andy Souza told the city council the city has benefited by taking a proactive approach in the past year and it's in a much better position than other cities in the state. "We've been able to bring this $8.8 million dollar reduction with no filled positions being eliminated. We will be freezing some vacancies throughout some departments and unfortunately we will be releasing some temporary staffing," said Fresno City Manager Andy Souza.

In all, up to 50 people will lose their jobs. Officials say about 20 temporary positions in the police department will be cut as well as up to 30 from Parks and Recreation, which are also temporary. No police officers or firefighters will be let go as a result of the budget cuts.

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