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      Saginaw council approves manager's budget with police and fire cuts

      The Saginaw City Council approved the city manager's 2014 budget Wednesday night, making deep cuts to the police and fire departments a reality.

      Council members approved Darnell Earley's spending plan with a 6-3 vote. Earley's budget reduces spending by about $800,000 from last year.

      It calls for 51 layoffs in the police and fire departments, which would reduce the police department to 55 officers and the fire department to 35 firefighters.

      Mayor Greg Branch, who said he can't support a 55-officer police department, voted against the plan.

      Those who voted in favor of the budget say the city's other departments are already down to the bones, and say it's a tough reality that public safety has to bear the brunt of the budget cuts.

      Mayor Pro-Tem Dennis Browning, who supported the budget, said, "We have a balanced budget now and unfortunately public safety is taking a tremendous hit. But all our departments over the years have. Now it's our opportunity now to come up with resources and different opportunities."

      â??I think we need more, we need better and I guess I'm not 100 percent convinced that we tried our hardest,â?? Mayor Branch said.

      Earley said there are talks with the police union that could save four jobs. Next Monday, the council will take up a proposal to amend the budget with any â??budget-neutralâ?? agreements with the unions that would save police or fire positions.