City of Bellevue at risk of losing more than 30 firefighters due to proposed budget
BELLEVUE,Neb(FOX42KPTM)-Everyone relies on firefighters and medical crews in case of an emergency, especially Pauline Carrera. She has diabetes. Thursday afternoon, she learned the city of Bellevue could lose up to 30 firefighters because of budget cuts and she's not happy about it.
"There's been a lot of cuts everywhere but geez we need them," she said.
However, that could be the future for the city.
"The city of Bellevue has a history of ignoring fire department public safety issues," Don Gifford said. He's the president of the Bellevue chapter of the Nebraska Professional Firefighters Association.
Firefighters say the new budget could:
-Cause rotating brown out or closings of fire department engines-medic units and truck company
-Double and even triple response times to outlying areas of Bellevue
-Eliminate up to 30 Bellevue firefighter jobs
-The city of Bellevue will most likely default on a $1.9 million grant, which citizens of Bellevue may be liable to repay.
-Cause non-compliance with national standard response times.
-Severely reduce firefighting capabilities and emergency medical services.
"It will have a catastrophic effect on those citizens such as heart attacks, strokes, choking victims and many other medical emergencies," Gifford said.
Firefighters say the city received two $4 million federal grants to hire 24 more firefighters. However, the $7 million budget the city proposed could put them at default. This could end their funding.
"If we can't meet national standards and responding and staff criteria then we will default on a $1.9 million dollar grant," he said.
The city says it knows firefighters don't have a lot of resources.
Officials say the plan was to put in a restaurant tax, but that the city council eventually abandoned it.
"The plan outlined funding mechanisms and implementation timetables that would support the BFD budget, this plan was never enacted," he said.
Now firefighters are encouraging the community to push the city to help in some way.
"What do you want in a fire department do you want a fire department to get to your house within four minutes and can give life saving interventions or are you satisfied with a longer," he said.
Carrera says she is please with response times now and for them to get longer will hurt the community.
"I would appreciate them to come right away like what they are doing now."
The budget hearing meeting is Monday, August 27th. It will be open for public comment.
The proposed budget also calls for the elimination of several positions in the administrative offices and public works operations and not filling five currently vacant police officer positIons.
Bellevue Rita Sanders released a statement:
“Public Safety is of utmost importance to me and the citizens of Bellevue. I strongly ask the members of the Bellevue City Council and Budget Task Force to reconsider their positions and work with the city administration and departments to explore additional revenue sources that will enhance our public safety without hindering other basic city services the city provides. I am confident that we can work together to find a solution to this funding need which is a priority, in my opinion.”