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Thursday, May 19, 2011

City's Proposed Budget Cuts Could Eliminate Fire Station's Only Engine

Cities across the Golden State are pinching pennies in an effort to balance the budget. Indio needs to cut $6 million from its budget.

City Manager Dan Martinez asked each department head to propose 12% cuts to their department. Indio Police Chief Brad Ramos said he didn't want to, but would have to get rid of 6 officers.At Wednesday afternoon's budget meeting, Fire Chief Mike Marlow said he'd have to do away with the lone fire engine at the city's north fire station.

Michael Cohen, a retired fire fighter and member of the City's Citizen Finance Advisory Commission responded by saying, "Optimal response time is 3-4 minutes, if they get rid of the fire truck it'll be 11-13 1/2 minutes or longer.

On top of the response times, Cohen and thousands of others who live in north Indio gated and planned communities pay an extra $400 a year on top of their indio property tax. The tax is called a Mello Roos tax. "If a paramedic is needed, and the stations paramedic is gone, it will be an eleven to thirteen and a half minute response time. After 6 minutes you're brain dead," said Cohen.

The mello-roos tax money is supposed to provide fire, medical and police services for new communities. Under the proposal, they'd have to keep paying the tax but wouldn't get the services.

Cohen sent a strong message to the council, "If you own a home in the area, get your valuables and get out. Because it's going to burn to the ground."

Council member Michael Wilson lives in north Indio and is against the cuts to police and fire. "For a big part of the north Indio community, it is an age restricted community. They look at that fire station and truck as their only life line of services."}The budget proposals aren't final and will likely change. Other cuts will happen in Public Works, Administration, Human Services among others.

The next meeting about the budget will be June 1st. City council members must pass a balanced budget by July 1.

Source: - Article Link

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