Police, fire departments bear brunt of cuts in Saginaw budget

It's a reality Saginaw City Manager Darnell Earley has been preparing the mayor and council for for months. On Monday Earley presented his 2014 draft budget in which public services bear the brunt of the cuts.

The $30.9 million general fund budget is about $820,000 less than what was allotted last year. It eliminates a $3.2 structural deficit, mostly by reducing the police department to 55 officers and the fire department to 35 firefighters. Thatâ??s a cut of 36 sworn police officers and 15 firefighters.

City administrators were unsuccessful earlier this year in securing a policing contract with the county sheriff that would have avoided some of those layoffs.

â??I'm still hopeful and optimistic that we can reach an agreement with the police officers union and with firefighters union that can allow us to keep staffing levels higher than that,â?? Mayor Greg Branch said.

Retired battalion chief Errol Burton said heâ??s deeply concerned about firefightersâ?? safety if this budget is approved. â??What I'm concerned about is that firefighters are going to get killed. I do not want to go to a firefighter's death that's been killed in the line of duty because they can't provide him back-up.â??

Assistant City Manager Phil Ludos said there's a chance the police and fire unions could reach an agreement with the city before the fiscal year begins July 1. The administration is meeting with the fire union Tuesday morning.

A public hearing is scheduled for May 20 at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers. City council is also scheduled to adopt a budget at that time.