Budget battles continue for Jonesboro

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

The City of Jonesboro is in the midst of intense financial planning for the next 3 years.  The city is addressing public safety, the city's most demanding budget, first.

"We want to run this exercise, take a look at it, now we know," said Jonesboro Mayor, Harold Perrin.

The  exercise was to ask Police Chief  Mike Yates and Fire Chief Leonard Jadrich to cut their budgets by one point two million dollars each.

"That would be 40 positions in police reduction and 27 positions in the fire department," said Perrin.

"5 years down the road, 10 years down the roads, under those circumstances, this could be a very, very different place," said Yates.

Chief Yates says if the department  lost between 30 to 40 people, the bulk would be sworn officers. He says their main priority under those circumstances, would be to have the general patrol function staffed as closely to the level it is now as possible. He says that would mean the depletion of everything else.

"A lot of the investigative function would be gone, PROWL unit would be gone, DTF reduced, Internet predator gone, nobody to monitor sex offenders," said Yates.

"Something has to be done.   We can't live with this," said Jadrich.

Jadrich says if his department was forced to cut 27 jobs--they would all be firefighters.  He says they would also have to close a fire station.

"It's going to make it impossible to maintain what we're doing now," said Jadrich.

Jadrich says neither department can afford to go backwards and maintain safety for responders and the public.

"A lot of these services we're providing now in public safety would go away and I just don't think the people of Jonesboro would want to tolerate that level of service of public safety we'd come back with," said Jadrich.

Mayor Perrin calls the scenario after this exercise unacceptable  He says they are all committed to finding another way to keep cuts from happening.

"We've got to look for other ways to increase revenue if we're going to maintain the same level of service in public safety that we have today," said Perrin.

The mayor and city's operations manager will be in Washington D.C. over the next few days.  While there, the mayor says they will be meeting with several groups, including the Department of Justice, to see if there is grant money available to help the city.

Police Chief Mike Yates says he's confident between grants, city leaders, and citizens, a solution will be found.

©2010 KAIT

 all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.