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Police, fire, EMS looking for ways to cut budgets
Thursday, May 15, 2008 by Austin Monitor
The heads of
The department previously had a requirement to maintain an 80 percent staffing level in each sector, and would call in off-duty officers to work overtime if there was a staffing shortage due to officers out on vacation or sick leave. The department dropped that requirement, and Acevedo says officers are now called in on a case-by-case basis. In addition, higher-ranking officers such as detectives are being used to handle patrol duties in some cases instead of bringing in officers on overtime.
“We are running this department like a business, but we’re also stewards of the people’s dollar,” the Chief said.
More than 90 percent of APD’s budget is devoted to personnel and benefits. In addition to the ongoing Meet and Confer negotiations with the Austin Police Association, the department will also be growing with the consolidation of the Public Safety and Emergency Management officers into APD. The budget impact of both of those factors, the Chief said, had yet to be determined.
That focus on containing costs extends to the department’s motor vehicle fleet. “We are now in the process of conducting a fleet analysis, because fleet management is part of the job,” he said. “You will probably see our fleet reduced this year.” Department officials are even encouraging officers not to leave their vehicles idling in an effort to save on gasoline costs.
Fuel costs are also a major factor in the Austin Fire Department. Both fire and
AFD is also looking at partnering with some new residential projects downtown to locate fire-fighting and life-saving equipment for firefighters. Existing downtown fire stations, said Acting Chief Jim Evans, were build decades ago and are not always ideally suited for current fire-fighting apparatus.
“As we continue to purchase new apparatus that require them to be a little bit larger, then we come in to space limitations,” he said. Alternatives could include reserving space in new development downtown for fire or EMS stations, or placing key medical equipment in special areas in new high-rise buildings so that firefighters or
“Station 1 is crowded. I think we have the appropriate amount of personnel and equipment downtown to handle the needs right now, but I think if we had an opportunity to shift some of those to the west side of Congress Avenue, that might help,” said Council Member Mike Martinez, a former firefighter. “I think we have a very unique opportunity with the Green water treatment plant redevelopment that is being bid right now. Maybe one of the public benefits is a public safety facility or structure that could handle a smaller apparatus or even an ambulance.” He requested a report on other cities that have fire stations built into residential high-rise projects.
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