Bay City considers re-organization of public safety

Bay City leaders say it could be the hardest decision they'll ever make but re-organizing public safety, which is also the city's biggest ticket item, is something they say is necessary to keep the city afloat.

Numerous city departments have already experienced cutbacks.

"Every department in some fashion has been drastically cut," says Lynn Stamiris, Bay City commissioner.

Police and fire are the only departments that have remained untouched.

"It's gotten down to the largest department affecting budget are last one's to be hit and that's public safety," says Commissioner Stamiris.

City leaders have had to dip into reserve funds each year to afford the $11 million public safety price tag. But, officials say they can't pay it any longer.

"We're elected to make the tough decisions and this is probably one of the toughest we'll have to make as commissioner."

A tough decision that interim Bay City fire chief Karey Prieur helped to come up with. The plan re-organizes, or as some would say, merges police and fire.

"Currently, we have nine to 11 firefighters respond to an emergency within five to ten minutes. Under this reorganization plan we will have six to eight firefighters and at least three cross-trained police officers respond for a total of nine to eleven personnel within the first five minutes," says Prieur.

It would mean about 20 firefighter positions cut but leaders say service to the community would not be affected.

The police chief and interim fire chief are meeting with city commissioners Monday to present this latest plan.