Yakima Police and fire cuts are back on the tablePosted: Updated:
YAKIMA, Wash- Yakima's preliminary budget is out cutting streets, economic development, and the city manager staff all to try to balance a one-point three million dollar shortfall without cutting police and fire jobs. However, last week's budget proposal from Olympia could take another half million dollars from Yakima.
"So those cuts that's we were going to do to fill the police officer positions are now just going to fill the hole we're getting from the state", explains council member Rick Ensey.
Now the city council will again be faced with cutting six vacant police officer and one vacant fire fighter position to keep Yakima out of the red. Though it may not seem like it, violent and gang related crime is actually down this year in Yakima. Police give some credit to extra patrols.
"So when we super impose that number of officers in a neighborhood we know we need to be effective then we see crime drop", says Lt. Mike Merryman of the Yakima Police Department.
But under this budget YPD would have six less officers to make that happen. The fire department only stands to lose one officer. Not a huge cut by itself but the department is down 37 officers across the board.
With one officer gone, you can't fill an engine company", says Chief Dave Willson who is planning to take a training lieutenant off the training position to replace the firefighter they expect to lose.
Council member Ensey says this round of budget cuts may be Yakima's next move towards a new reality.
"Yakima has always prided itself on being a full service city, but those times of being a full service city are at an end", says Ensey.