Drastic Budget Cuts in Lemoore

June 1, 2009 7:48:43 PM PDT
A South Valley city is looking at drastic cuts to stay afloat during today's economy. The City of Lemoore will likely shut down a park, cut back on services and lay off about 20 people, including 10% of the officers at the Lemoore Police Department. City leaders are trying to cut $1.5 million out of their budget over three years.

Two police officers and a sergeant at the Lemoore Police Department are slated to be eliminated within the next three years because of budget cutbacks. Lemoore City Leaders are grappling with a decline in property taxes and having to lend the state more than $250,000. Jeff Briltz, City Manager, says "With the economy and the state that it's in, we're seeing reduced revenues for that reason and we lost our only auto dealership last September."

Briltz also says several of the city's downtown stores aren't surviving the recession. The city is proposing to take $2 million out of its reserves to prevent taking more drastic measures. From reducing street cleaning to laying off up to 25 people, nearly ever city department will see cuts. Briltz says "Our council has prepared a plan that looks three years out. It shows our city staff being 20% smaller, closure of parks and elimination of some recreation programs."

The 19th Avenue park is on the cutting board. Eddie Neal maintains the park. He realizes his job is in jeopardy. Eddie Neal says "It's a great place to see it closed down like this. I'm from here, born and raised. Just to see something like this happen ... I guess the recession is showing its hands right now."

The park hosts local soccer and softball games and has a dog park. Lemoore resident Koma James takes her dog there daily. Koma James says "We would be really sad because there's no other way to let him run. If you just go on walks he doesn't get to run so I would really miss the park."

Lemoore Police officers also gave up the raise they were expected to get this year. The city is reviewing its budget plan at its city council meeting on Tuesday night. City leaders say if the economy fails to recover in three years, they may have to make even more cuts.

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