In today’s edition, we see photos from Mayor David Cadle’s recognition of a police officer and a firefighter for their more than 30 years’ combined service. (See “Public safety officers recognized,” B4.)
The News Bulletin commends the men for their service and devotion to protecting the city by putting their lives on the line. At the same time, we keep in mind that public safety jobs could be on the line as city leaders and department heads strive to present a balanced fiscal budget.
And we keep in mind how unpredictable that process can be.
A couple of months ago, Brian Hughes reported on the city’s recognition of Fire Station 3’s fifth anniversary. A five-year FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant funded 12 employees’ salaries; though the SAFER grant requires the city to keep paying those workers for one more year, Fire Chief Joe Traylor said that losing those positions would be detrimental.
"The loss of those 12 employees would have a direct negative impact on the amount of homeowners insurance and commercial insurance for citizens who are served by the firefighters that work out of that station," he has said.
Firefighters reacted a month later when they heard that Fire Station 3’s future was uncertain, as closing the fire station was among numerous ideas to balance the budget.
A few firefighters were particularly vocal in expressing their views on our Facebook and at crestviewbulletin.com. News Bulletin staffers heard directly from firefighters with families who find it difficult to grasp the concept of not being transferred to another firehouse, but just losing their job. They selected this type of work because they want to help people; plus, it’s a public service and should always be in demand, right?
A few weeks later, Council President Robyn Helt proposed a budget that would retain firefighters and aid Police Chief Tony Taylor’s efforts to regain the public’s trust following former Maj. Joseph Floyd’s racketeering conviction. While the proposal would fund Taylor’s police department accreditation efforts, along with his goal of moving the dispatch center from P.J. Adams Parkway to police headquarters in the Whitehurst Municipal Building, it would result in the loss of four police officer positions. Though it would avoid raising the millage rate, it would modestly raise water rates and cut taxpayer-funded city employee dependent health insurance.
Last week, city council members and department heads expressed frustration for the latest proposal, which retains the police and fire department positions while raising the millage rate and cutting police and fire uniform allowances and the CPD’s K-9 division budget, among others.
That means it’s back to work on a new proposal — and a great challenge by any measure.
“I’m not in a popularity contest. I’m here to do a job,” Helt said.
She’s right. Running any kind of business requires making tough decisions, and we certainly wish the council the best in determining what that means for Crestview, its employees and its residents.
And you know what they say: You can please some of the people some of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time. (I tried to research its origin, but it seems there’s no conclusive answer on who came up with that gem.)
The bottom line is this: Our staff has spoken with city employees and with a number of city leaders, and we believe the council takes these decisions very seriously.
And guess what? You can help.
The final Crestview City Council budget workshop is 5 p.m. Sept. 5 at City Hall. The first public hearing on the budget and millage rate is 5 p.m. Sept. 10; votes on the budget and millage are scheduled for 5 p.m. Sept. 24. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
We hope to see you there.
Undoubtedly, whatever the final budget looks like, this will be one of those times when the decision pleases “some of the people.”
However, regardless of the outcome, at least you’ll know your voice was heard.
Email Crestview News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni, email@example.com, or tweet him @cnbeditor.