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Budget slaps firefighters, detectives

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Aug. 14, 2001
Tight revenues could leave seven firefighter and two police detective positions unfunded if Meridian councilmen approve Mayor John Robert Smith's proposed city budget.
Fire Chief Bunky Partridge and Acting Police Chief Benny DuBose said Monday that residents won't notice any change because the two detective slots and six of the firefighter positions have been vacant for some time.
The nine firefighter and police detective positions are among 21 city jobs that Smith's budget would leave unfunded during the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 a move that would save the city $386,710 in salaries.
The firefighter positions pay $19,882 a year and the police detective jobs pay $24,285 a year. Other positions not funded would include three maintenance workers at $14,746 a year, one recreational specialist at $19,149 and one vehicle mechanic at $19,149.
Smith unveiled his budget proposal almost two weeks ago; the budget would replace the $41.5 million budget for the current fiscal year. City councilmen are expected to discuss Smith's budget proposal on Thursday.
The Meridian Fire Department can have as many as 117 positions and the Meridian Police Department can have as many as 132 positions. The exact number of employees currently in each department was unavailable on Monday.
Danny Ivy, a captain with the Meridian Fire Department and the president of the Firefighters Local 52 union, said that working conditions aren't ideal for the city's firefighters.
DuBose said the MPD is seldom fully staffed; he said the department has a high turnover rate caused by officers leaving for higher-paying jobs.
Ivy said the mayor's budget proposal is disheartening for most workers because it doesn't give them the chance for a raise. The budget would fund pay raises approved last year for the mayor and city council.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.
Here is a list of city jobs that would go unfunded in Mayor John Robert Smith's budget proposal for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1.
Unfunded city jobs:
Seven firefighters, $19,882 a year each.
Three maintenance workers, $14,746 a year each.
Two surveyors, $12,544 a year each.
Two heavy equipment operators, $19,149 a year each.
Two police detectives, $24,285 a year each.
One cashier, $14,746 a year.
One recreational specialist, $19,149 a year.
One groundskeeper, $22,084 a year.
One vehicle mechanic, $19,149 a year.
One traffic sign and marker assistant, $16,214 a year.