Budget axe could impact police, fire response - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Budget axe could impact police, fire response

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Talk of layoffs to balance the Memphis City budget has the police and fire unions warning that public safety will compromised.

City council and the Wharton administration want to trim the payroll by 400 employees. They hope 300 workers will retire and the other 100 would have to get pink slips.

Battle to balance Memphis' budget

Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis once described the budget cuts he had to make as hitting bone and then raw nerve. The Memphis police and fire unions say budget cuts will hurt their wallets and the layoffs may put you in danger.

Cutting the budgets of fire and police is a sign of real financial troubles for Memphis. Laying off police and fire means the situation is dire.

"If these cuts come to the Memphis Fire Department, it will effect their lives," said Joe Norman of the Memphis Firefighters Union. "It will effect their property."

The union says the fire department has lost more than 100 positions from years past. Possible layoffs and buyouts the union argues could lead to fire stations being closed and emergency response time increased.

"With cuts to the personnel, and cuts to the equipment, it will result in lives lost and property lost," Norman said.

The police union also is sounding the alarm. It says the department has lost 150 officers because of retirement and those vacant positions never filled. More are expected to retire, so layoffs will hit the most visible part of law enforcement.

The city council plan of layoffs and voluntary retirement will save $15.5 million dollars. The unions warn taxpayers those saving will come at a cost.

Cuts to public safety could not come at a worse time for Memphis in terms of public relations. The FBI put the Bluff City at number five for the most violent city in America. Fire fighters say don't be surprised if insurance rates increase or if their response time goes up.

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