Police and fire budgets could face deep cuts

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Allen Park Fire Chief Mark Hogrebe (fourth from left) expressed his concern over his inability to budget for matching federal grant funds in the face of layoffs. Police Chief Dean Tamsen (left), Fire and Police Civil Service Commission Chairman Dale Lewis, Deputy City Clerk Meaghan Armstrong and Commissioner Malcolm Beaton listen.

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – Deep budget cuts will result in police and firefighter layoffs in the coming fiscal year, though the exact numbers still are unknown.

The Police Department proposed budget, which at $5.9 million comprises 28 percent of the overall city budget, already has been reduced from its original amount by about $1.25 million. Word of looming patrol officer layoffs already is circulating among residents.

Police Chief Dean Tamsen confirmed Wednesday that there likely will be layoffs, though final figures will not be known until negotiations are complete. Fiscal 2010-11 begins July 1.

“We obviously have a deficit, and we’re trying to come to an agreement with the unions,” he said. “We hope that we’ll be able to work through it.”

Tamsen declined to predict the number of layoffs that might occur among patrolmen and other department personnel.

The Fire Department proposed budget for next year of $3.35 million is about $656,000 less than originally considered. It would comprise about 16 percent of the city’s budget.

At the Fire and Police Civil Service Commission on Wednesday, Fire Chief Mark Hogrebe expressed deep concern over the ability to budget matching grant money for possible federal grants. He said turning down a federal grant for lack of matching funds could jeopardize the department’s eligibility in future years.

Hogrebe reiterated his remarks of the previous night to the City Council, saying, “Because we’re having such a hard time with economics, I cannot guarantee nor can the city guarantee a 10 percent match for funding for grants.”

He said that in response to the situation and with no other ways to get matching funds, his department won’t write for the next round of grants. It also may lose previously applied-for grants, as well as some department personnel whose positions are funded by grant money.

“I have exhausted just about everything I could do to match the prior grants. We are looking forward to these things, we are looking ahead. If it does not match what we need to bring my people back, we will not do it.”

The 2010-11 budget will be presented to the public at 7:30 p.m. May 25 in the City Council chambers at City Hall, 16850 Southfield Road. Property taxes and a proposed higher millage levy to support the budget also will be discussed.