ASHLAND, Ore-- Businesses in Ashland are getting ready for fire season. "I think its a frightening thought" said LouAnn David the owner of Manzanita Home and Flowers and Gifts.
Today I spoke to her about the possible budget cuts in the Ashland Fire Department. "To not have as many firefighters as we could possibly afford. I'm just wondering why or what other avenues they've looked for the money for that they've rejected" said David.
The City of Ashland has a 2 million dollar deficit each year. The budget this year is trying to fix that problem by cutting city staffing. Which could include three firefighters.
"When you talk about reducing level of staffing in the fire department that leads to the potential of increased response times and when you talk about increased response times that's never a good thing in an emergency services" said Ashland Fire Chief Michael D'Orazi. Chief D'Orazi says when it comes to the department's budget there is not a whole lot of wiggle room. 75 percent of the budget is made up of salaries and benefits.
"It's not just a spot on a list. These are human beings who are excellent firefighters and to loose them would be a big deal" said Chief D'Orazi. The proposed budget cut also means a reduction in their overtime budget. "Depending on the situation for instance during wildfire season we often go and help other agencies in Oregon and California" said Chief D'Orazi.
I would think that they would need every firefighter that's possible, possibly willing to do the job" said David. David is concerned that when wildfire season starts the fire department will be short staffed. "Idon't think we have the luxury of reducing the amount of firefighters" said David.
These possible budget cuts will be discussed at the Ashland City Council budget meeting tomorrow from 6:00-9:00pm. We will continue to update you on this developing story.