Budget Cuts May Strike Plano Police, Fire Departments

The city of Plano is facing a $13.5 million budget shortfall for the 2009-2010 fiscal year and will be cutting 3 percent of its operation budget.
That means cuts across the board including the city's police and fire departments.

The Plano Police Department may have to cut $2.2 million from its budget. The department may cut programs that would not affect response time or the number of officers on the streets at any given time.

Among the programs that could be cut are the Crossroads Family Services Program that helps crime victims.  Seven school liason police officers could be removed from Plano schools and the Legacy Town Center Neighborhood Office could be closed.

The department may also eliminate 10 vacant positions and freeze funding for the Alternate Career Ladder Program, which gives officers who acquire special skills and training incentives and pay raises.

The Plano Fire Department is considering cutting more than a half million dollars. To avoid layoffs, the department is considering doing away with educational programs first, including the Clown Program, which educates children about fire safety in schools and the Citizen's Fire Academy.

The department may also eliminate two of five vacant positions, and is considering taking one ambulance out of service. That ambulance is staffed by firefighters working overtime shifts.
Fire Chief Hugo Esparza said fire trucks will still respond to emergencies in a timely manner.

"Where we may see an impact will be on the transport side. Crews may have to wait a little longer, 30 seconds, one minute, maybe even five minutes for an ambulance," Esparza said.

He said he wants to assure Plano residents their safety will not be compromised
The current Plano City Council will try to balance the budget, but come May 9, voters will head to the polls to elect four new council members who will have to pick up where the former council members left off. 

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