NEW ORLEANS -- It is that time of year again as the Landrieu administration is trying to balance the city’s budget for next year and turning to the public for input.
A fire union spokesman confirmed that the fire department might see some major cuts next year, which could include 724 fire department employees and the closure of the Basin Street Fire Station.
Shortly before Monday’s community budget meeting, members of the NOFD were camped outside the Jewish Community Center on St. Charles Avenue. They passed out fliers speaking out against possible cuts to the fire department in next year’s city budget.
“They have proposed a number of reductions in fire service for the year 2013,” said Nick Felton, New Orleans Fire Fighters Association president. “We’re very concerned about that, we’re objecting to that. The reduction in personnel that respond to fire and medical calls is totally unacceptable to us.”
Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other city officials met with District B community members asking residents to weigh-in on the budgeting process.
“We haven’t proposed any cuts, anywhere. We’re asking people what their priorities are and made some good points,” said Landrieu.
A handful of citizens voiced support for the fire department. “We need our fire departments back,” said one resident at the meeting.
As for other public safety services like the police department, Superintendent Ronal Serpas says still too early to tell if they’ll see cuts.
“You make the best possible budget package that you can make. You make a reasonable and rational argument for it. The City has to make choices. Everybody in business knows we are working in tough economic times,” said Serpas.
Some money saving suggestions from the public included not paying for city vehicles or cell phones…and more accountability with spending at the jail.