Ann Arbor police and fire departments facing layoffs yet again, budget analysis shows
The jobs of five police officers and three firefighters are on the chopping block in a budget analysis presented to the Ann Arbor City Council on Monday night to help close a projected $2.4 million shortfall in the next fiscal year.
Police Chief Barnett Jones and Fire Chief Dominick Lanza were among the city officials who presented a budget impact analysis to the council. Both said their departments would be heavily impacted if they were forced to reduce their budgets by either 2.5 percent or 4 percent.
“Looking at this, I’d prefer to be wrestling with a bad guy than talking about these scenarios,” Jones said.
Facing a budget shortfall for the 2011-12 fiscal year, officials asked department heads to come up with budgets based on both a 2.5 percent reduction and 4 percent reduction.
File: Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
The police department accounts for $23.1 million and the fire department accounts for $13.8 million of the city’s $81.45 million general fund budget for 2010-11.
The police department would cut about $747,000 from its budget under the 2.5 percent scenario and about $1.1 million under the 4 percent scenario. Similar figures were not presented during discussions of cuts in the fire department.
According to an analysis provided by Jones, a 2.5 percent cut would mean eliminating two dispatcher positions, one vacant telecommunications position, one vacant police officer position, two other police officer positions resulting in layoffs, one police service specialist resulting in a layoff and one vacant police professional assistant for fiscal year 2011-12.
If a 4 percent budget cut was made, an additional three police officers would be laid off, the analysis showed.
The situation for the fire department was fairly similar.
Lanza told the council that with a 2.5 percent cut, the fire department would have to eliminate five positions in next year’s budget, with three of those positions resulting in layoffs and the other two positions left open after retirements. At the 4 percent level, one additional firefighter would have to be laid off.
The situation for the fire department is slightly different due to the planned study of a paid on-call fire department, Lanza said.
The department recently began intermittent closures of Fire Station 3 at 2130 Jackson Ave. in an attempt to eliminate overtime, Lanza said.
“It didn’t matter which station it was, to a degree it was going to lengthen response times,” he said. “If there was a fire, lengthier response times means more damage. It doesn’t matter which station, there will be an impact to the community.”
To balance the budget for fiscal year 2010-11, the city eliminated five police positions and five firefighter positions in July. In the fire department, four of those were layoffs.
Officials also presented an analysis for fiscal year 2012-13, which included more position cuts.
Jones said at the 2.5 percent level, the department would be forced to eliminate one more position from dispatch operations, resulting in a layoff, and four police officers. The department also would eliminate $31,723 in materials and supplies and demote one lieutenant to sergeant and two sergeants to the rank of police officer. At the 4 percent level, an additional four police officers would be eliminated.
Overtime wouldn't be eliminated or reduced in either budget, Jones said. He told the council he was still researching how to configure patrols to keep overtime intact with a loss of personnel.
Lanza said a total of six firefighters would have to be cut in 2012-13, but said the predictions aren't accurate because the department won’t know its future until the study on converting to a paid on-call department is completed.
“A lot of what we do is guesstimates and if we had a better idea of the future, and they’ve done their study, everybody including the employees would know (the future),” Lanza said. “It’s hard for anyone to make accurate predictions — we do the best we can.”
The police and fire departments weren't the only areas targeted for budget cuts during Monday's work session.
City Administrator Roger Fraser presented the budget impact analysis for his office, the mayor and city council’s office, the communications department, human resources and the city clerk’s office.
All of those departments combined need to remove about $86,600 from their budgets for fiscal year 2011-12 and about $90,000 for fiscal year 2012-13.
The reductions in those departments included cutting down on printing and supplies, reducing pay for contracted services, and other assorted measures.
Ann Arbor CFO Tom Crawford presented the budget impact analysis for the city’s finance department. Crawford detailed about $102,000 in cuts for the 2011-12 fiscal year and about $104,000 for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
Crawford said much of the IT budget would be determined by what the operations side of the city required of the department.
“The supply and demand from the operating side is the biggest part of making sure IT costs are appropriate,” Crawford said.
Kyle Feldscher is a reporter for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.