EUREKA- The Eureka City Council approved the budget at a special meeting Tuesday night.
When council was presented with the proposed budget by the city manager and city departments about two weeks ago, there was 10 percent less funding than the original proposed budget for each department, including to police and fire. After the police chief and fire chief shared with council last week how those cuts would negatively impact their departments, council worked to craft a plan to restore some funding for public safety. That plan will now be executed with the passing of the budget.
Community members shared on Tuesday night their concern for cutting public safety funding in the upcoming budget.
"One of my concerns is traffic safety, and I want to make sure that we have funding for traffic officers out there. We're number one and two in the state for fatalities and collisions. So these are serious concerns,” said Kathy Srabian, a Eureka resident.
Concerns the council echoed.
“At the end of the night, and after hearing citizen comment, they really wanted to make sure that there was some additional funding put in to public safety to restore some of the reductions that have been proposed, and really address the big priorities from both Chief Woods and Chief Mills,” said Greg Sparks, the Eureka City Manager.
Under the original proposed budget, Humboldt Bay Fire was going to have to cut all funding for replacing old personal protective gear as well as other equipment, and cut some of the funding for training. These are among the top budget priorities for Humboldt Bay Fire.
“We don't want to take something out of service because something breaks or we can't replace or reduce that part of the service that we do to the community. And then the training. Being able to keep our personnel going, keep everybody learning, so we can continue to do our job efficiently and effectively” said Assistant Fire Chief Bill Gillespie with Humboldt Bay Fire.
The Eureka Police Department’s highest priorities include keeping the full amount of overtime funding, training funding, and funding to finish equipping patrol cars with in-car cameras.
"It helps us for what's going on out in the field. If somebody were to complain, we'd normally have it on tape. If an incident takes place, we can use it for training to tell our officers, 'here's what we do. Here's what we don't do,'" said Police Chief Andrew Mills of the Eureka Police Department.
When the council approved the budget Tuesday night, they outlined a plan to set aside at least $300,000 from the general fund to restore funding to police and fire, using increases to various city fees, as well as projected increased revenue and cost savings.
“I think it’s vitally important and I think they’re showing a great deal of support for the police,” Chief Mills said.
“The budget really helps us to continue to do the job that we’re here to do, that the community wants and expects,” Assistant Fire Chief Gillespie said.
The budget goes into effect on July 1st. About 63 percent of the general fund, which is about $30 million, is going to be used to fund police and fire in the City of Eureka for the budget.