City budgets for two more firefighters
The council voted to approve the measure hiring two more firefighters for the next fiscal year. According to the city staff’s budget predictions, the two firefighters would cost the city $65,892 each for the entire fiscal year.
“Since the beginning of the fiscal year, when the budget was originally prepared, several projections of revenues and expenditures have changed,” said Finance Director Robert Porfiri in his mid-year budget review report. “Staff presented a list of these changes and their impact on the current adopted budget. All these changes were added to the originally adopted budget.”
Porfiri’s report went on to explain that once all of the increases and decreases were added to the original budget, the general fund resulted in a net increase of more than $150,000. The positive increase came from not filling frozen positions, or positions the city couldn’t afford to fill at the time.
The city council also asked city staff at the Nov. 7 meeting to rework the budget so it could fill positions for a police commander and a police detective, and to remove money allotted for a construction supervisor.
To help better balance the budget, Bonham suggested staff remove money budgeted for the police detective position for an additional year, so it could instead provide funding for two additional full-time firefighters for the Susanville Fire Department.
Battalion Chief Ted Friedline said the fire department currently has two fulltime firefighters on duty for every shift, when, at full capacity, it should have four on duty. Bonham said his priorities for the town have always lied with providing adequate police and fire protection, but when push came to shove, he supported having two more firefighters rather than one more police officer.
“This community depends heavily on great volunteers to help protect it from fire, and I don’t think we have a choice in hiring some full-time firefighters to help out,” Bonham said.
Police Chief Jeff Atkinson said he also has staffing issues right now, as the police department is currently understaffed. He expressed he wasn’t sure if the police department would ever be fully staffed, although he hoped at some point in the future, it would be.
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