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Firefighters, police expect severe cuts

Sun., Oct. 24, 2004, midnight

Spokane Mayor Jim West is expected to release details of his 2005 budget proposal Tuesday, and reports from City Hall suggest that police and fire services will see significant cuts.

Fire Chief Bobby Williams said he could lose from 65 to 70 department employees from a force of about 290 personnel. That would save $4.3 million.

After the cuts, the city will have to figure out how to redeploy the fire force, the mayor said. Fire union leaders want to close two or three neighborhood stations, while the mayor said he prefers a plan to reduce staffing on fire rigs.

In the Spokane Police Department, as many as 24 officers could be laid off, and the remaining personnel will be reorganized. The planned cut reportedly is about $7 million, but details have not yet been given on how many positions would be trimmed from the budget.

Parks and library officials have said they face big cuts, too. The park department has proposed cutting some of its funding for senior centers, community centers and youth programs. The Shadle Park outdoor pool would be closed, and charges for various park services would be increased.

The Library Board is considering a plan to either close the Hillyard, Indian Trail and East Side branches completely, or keep them each open two days a week and cut one day from the downtown, Shadle and South Hill branches.

The public will get a chance to comment on the budgets during City Council meetings each Monday starting Nov. 8 until the budget is adopted in December. The meetings begin each Monday at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall and are televised live on city Cable Channel 5.

Other chances to weigh in:

•The Park Board will meet at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 11 in Council Chambers to consider its budget. That meeting is televised on Cable Channel 5 as well.

•The Library Board will meet at 4 p.m. Monday in the lower floor of the Downtown Library, and is expected to schedule a series of town hall meetings.


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