Mesa council mulls public safety cuts - East Valley Tribune: News

Mesa council mulls public safety cuts

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Posted: Monday, May 5, 2003 9:41 am | Updated: 1:30 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Mesa’s police and fire departments are facing $4.3 million in service cuts next year — including the elimination of an emergency response ladder company — according to budget reports obtained by the Tribune.

The City Council, which must approve the cuts, will discuss next year’s police and fire allocations today and will be involved in budget deliberations today, Tuesday and Thursday.

The proposed cuts in public safety represent more than one-third of $16 million in service reductions next year. It’s part of Mesa’s plan to offset a projected $33 million budget deficit in fiscal 2003-04, which begins in July.

Officials said the deep slashes in public safety — an area usually shielded from cuts — underscore the severity of the deficit.

"These are bare-bone cuts," said City Councilman Mike Whalen, a former Mesa assistant police chief. "The fire department is really concerned about that ladder truck."

The Tribune requested the budget reports in January. Mesa held off releasing them until late last week, arguing that the information could be detrimental to the city.

According to the reports, the police department would take a $600,000 cut in overtime pay next year, and its travel budget would be reduced by $98,000.

The Gang Resistance Education and Training program — aimed at keeping children and adults out of gangs — would be eliminated, with the unit’s three police officers reassigned elsewhere for a savings of $121,542, documents show.

Police would delay hiring 28 civilians, including investigators and crime analysts, for a savings of $1.2 million.

The Fire Department would disband an emergency response ladder company, which would leave unfilled positions for six full-time firefighters and one full-time fire investigator, at a savings of $532,483, documents show.

Fifteen additional full- and part-time positions in the fire department would go unfilled next year, for a savings of more than $1 million.

Funding would be cut for a paramedic school that teaches advance life support techniques. The move would save $630,000.

Tuition assistance for firefighters would be cut next year, at a savings of $5,000.

The Parks and Recreation Department also faces cuts in service.

Closing times at all city pools would be moved up to 7 p.m. instead of 8 p.m., said Terri Palmberg, a parks administrator. The number of pools open on Saturday would be reduced from 10 to six, and all pools would be closed on weekends and holidays. The projected savings are $30,123.

The city would stop offering aquatics lessons on Fridays, for a savings of $49,818.

Maintenance at parks, retention basins and the city cemetery would be cut. Reductions include less frequent mowing, tree trimming and parking lot sweeping, Palmberg said, for a savings of $437,300.

The city would reduce the number of gyms open after hours at elementary and junior high schools from 14 to eight, for a savings of $143,763.

Mesa would defer $580,000 in flood control projects for the eastern fringes of the city.

The city also would eliminate a program that installs speed bumps in neighborhoods, at a savings of $140,000.

City council meeting

What: Mesa City Council discussion on police and fire funding

When: 10:30 a.m. today

Where: Council chambers, 57 E. First St.

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