City Police to Reduce Number of Officers due to Budget Cuts
Battle Creek City Commissioners have been working with all department heads for several weeks to decide how they'll make up for a big budget shortfall. Tuesday night they'll vote on a mid-year budget adjustment plan that addresses most of a $2.3 million dollar deficit. Staff reductions in the Battle Creek Police and Fire Departments will be inevitable.
City Police Chief Jim Blocker was a guest on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins, along with Calhoun County Sheriff Matt Saxton. Both say cuts to police departments are nothing new, and in recent years there's nothing left to cut except payroll. But Blocker says they knew about the shortfall in late November, and there's been a lot of cooperation and hard work by city staff to figure it out. But Chief Blocker says the Police Department is looking at a $700,000 reduction for the next five months, and about $400,000 or more for the Fire Department.
And it could have been worse. The City Commission agenda says " Impacts to Police and Fire were reduced from the Option 2 that was presented to the Commission during the workshop based on Commissioners and citizen input. Also based on Commissioner and citizen input, this mid year budget adjustment does not include any reduction to Transit."
The shortfall happened as a result of changes in state law. Battle Creek has experienced two different personal-property-tax-related revenue issues in 2018. Some of that was offset by recent legislation spearheaded by former State Senator Mike Nofs.
Chief Blocker says the impact will be significant, but that they'll still be able to perform services to the city. The cuts will be done in an "even, across the board" approach. He says there are many factors that will go into the decision of how the cuts will happen.
In the YouTube video of the interview, both the Chief and Sheriff also address:
- How the departments, city and county responded during the recent cold weather.
- Recent shooting deaths in Battle Creek.
- Seizure of 17 dogs left in the freezing weather and their status.
- A short lived escape from the Calhoun County Jail.