Police & Fire Facing Cuts

May 30, 2013 7:48 PM

The city of Chico is facing a nearly $5 million budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year.
City leaders are asking all the department heads to cut 10 percent from their budgets and that could have a major impact on public safety.

"That kind of money, $1.3-1.4 million, can only be realized by closing a fire station," Division Chief Shane Lauderdale said.

But in doing that, department leaders say they will not have an extra engine to respond to a second emergency if they are already battling a house fire or vegetation fires inside the city limits.
With the 10 percent budget cut looming, department leaders say they may have no choice but to use firefighters from the closed station to fill vacancies that have been covered as part of overtime shifts.

"What we would do is use those people that are displaced to offset vacation, sick leave and injuries," Lauderdale said.

The last time the department was forced to close a station, was just last year when they closed Station 5 near Upper Bidwell Park to save an estimated $100,000. With this being a more long term closure, department leaders say their best option may be closing Station 3 at the airport."

"There are impacts. From a fire protection standpoint, we are going to try to protect the most people with the fewest resources," Lauderdale said.

The police department is also being asked to cut $2.1 million from its budget and department leaders say to get to that number they may have to lay off the crime analyst, the animal control supervisor and eliminate two community service officer positions along with ending it's mounted patrol unit and cutting back on SWAT team training.
The city manager and finance director did not return our calls for comment Thursday.
Closing station three could force some action from city leaders, because the FAA requires airports to have a fire engine staffed for a period before commercial flights arrive and after they take off.
So it's unclear if the city council or city manager will allow that station to be closed.


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