Firefighters Turn Out to Battle Budget Cuts

Wednesday, Nov 12, 2008  |  Updated 9:15 AM PDT
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Firefighters Turn Out to Battle Budget Cuts

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Firefighters rally outside City Hall on the day officials mull the mayor's proposed budget cuts.

City leaders need to find about $30 million dollars or make painful cuts and closures. On Wednesday morning, the City Council will hold a special meeting to discuss the city's $43 million budget shortfall. Mayor Jerry Sanders is looking for a savings of $8 million  from the police department and $4 million from the fire department.  The mayor has also proposed closing libraries and recreation centers.

The plan includes use of "rolling brown outs" -- rotating two of the city's 60 engine and truck companies out of service everyday. Frank De Clercq of San Diego City Fire Fighters Local 145 said that could impact public safety. "We can't get to parts of this city in 8 to 9 minutes and you're going to shut down a couple?" asked De Clercq. "Whether you shut down an engine company or truck, it's gonna be huge ramifications on public safety."

San Diego firefighters began rallying outside the council meeting Wednesday at 8 a.m.

An independent budget analyst has presented suggestions to solving San Diego's budget woes and it involves city executives taking a 10 percent pay cut.  Analyst Andrea Tevlin said it might be necessary to fix a huge budget shortfall. Tevlin made the suggestion as a part of her review of the mayor's budget proposal, expected to be released Wednesday in a City Council budget meeting.

A report in the San Diego Union-Tribune said that by reducing the salaries of San Diego's unclassified workers by 3 percent, the city could save $424,226. Imposing a 10 percent reduction can save $1.4 million.

Meanwhile, city council members are complaining of lack of communication between the mayor and the council.

On voiceofsandiego.org, City Council member Donna Frye complained that her only contact with Sanders was a 10-minute phone call a few hours before the mayor's news conference last week. She also said she didn't get a copy of the administration's full report until she went to the mayor's office and requested it in person after it had been released to the media.

Here's a link to the independent analyst report.

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