Madera officials say cuts are their only option

FRESNO, Calif.

Newly released numbers show the county's latest unemployment rate was at 14.3 percent in May.

The city council is holding a special budget workshop on Friday night.

The current proposal calls for 22 lay offs, including some positions at the police department.

All of the leaders Action News spoke with on Friday say the cuts will impact services for residents.

The Madera City Council is considering a budget that calls for cutting 29 total positions, including 22 layoffs. The city administrator says a lack of state funding and the fragile world economy are both largely to blame.

"We've all had to learn that what happens in a bank in Greece, Italy and Spain has a direct effect on what happens in Madera," Madera City Administrator David Tooley said.

The proposed cuts affect several departments that are expected to make service slower at city hall. Residents will also be impacted by lay-offs at the parks and community services department.

"They're going to see a reduced maintenance standard in some areas of the city because we won't have as many people cutting grass, cleaning up parks," Tooley said.

No police officer or firefighter jobs are on the line, but support staff positions are.

"My main concerns are not only the members of the organization, but also the risk that may be placed on the community as a result of the reduction in staff," Chief Michael Kime of the Madera Police Dept. said.

The police department may lose an animal control officer and a property and evidence officer, along with other positions. Chief Michael Kime says patrol officers will do their best to fill the gaps, but they'll have to make some calls a lower priority.

"We're trying to reorg the best we can so we can deliver the best service we can with as little impact as possible, but to say there would be no impact would be ridiculous and naive to assume otherwise," Kime said.

Mayor Brett Frazier says he's still hoping the council may be able to minimize the cuts, but he realizes that may be wishful thinking.

"This is not what any of us have wanted to do, but tough times call for tough measures," Mayor Brett Frazier said.

The council is expected to vote on the budget at its July 5 meeting.

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