Grand Island City Council looks to cut police, fire department positions

(NTV News)

The Grand Island City Council is looking at balancing the city budget by cutting some police and fire department positions while also raising taxes.

A budget document prepared for the council the city's designation as a Metropolitan Statistical Area has seen payroll problems "compounded significantly and additional staffing levels over the past few years have increased the pressure for our revenues to sustain and support our personnel costs."

In order to come up with a balanced budget in 2018, the council set a goal for personnel to not exceed 70 percent of the general fund.

Without recommended changes, the city would be $2 million in the hole to start the 2021 budget year, according to the city administrator.

Recommended changes to the fire department include eliminating two positions. Two open positions would remain vacant, and two would retire - leaving six less firefighters with the department.

Changes to the Grand Island Police Department include eliminating two community service officers; two other police officer positions that are vacant would remain vacant, and three officers would retire and would not be replaced. Two part-time community service positions would also be left vacant.

The library and parks departments could also see some positions cut.

In total, about 20 positions would be eliminated.

The City Council will also propose increased property taxes for capital projects, and adding a rental car tax that would generate $150,000 for streets.

The council will meet Tuesday to discuss the recommended changes, but will take action on a later date.

Tuesday's work session is open to the public. It will be held in the State Fair board room at the Nebraska Building. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

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