Council to vote on austere 2013 budget

SPOKANE, Wash. - After months of debate and public testimony the Spokane City Council is voting Monday on the city's 2013 budget.

The plan on the table would eliminate 100 city positions. Many of those positions are vacant, but 14 people would lose their jobs.

Spokane Mayor David Condon knows the cuts are tough but said the city needs to change the way they do business. It's the fifth consecutive year the city is dealing with staggering budget cuts.

"It is very difficult to take the emotion out of it, these are real people," Mayor Condon said.

City council to vote on budget

In order to close the budget gap, the city has to slash $10 Million. Almost every department at city hall will be affected but the biggest impact lies with the fire and police departments. 21 vacant positions in the police department would not be filled; 23 positions in the fire department would be eliminated.

"We will do the best possible but we are past bare bones, we are below bare bones," Spokane Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said.

Some of those fire department positions are vacant, some firefighters are leaving for early retirement but no one in the fire department will actually be laid off.

But that doesn't mean you won't see a change. Fire service could suffer for some living on the South Hill. Right now the plan on the table is to significantly change the way Fire Station 9 runs and take its fire engine out of service.

"We have a plan to mitigate the impact to the service delivery but it is going to have an impact," Schaeffer said.

Last month the city council shot down a proposed one-percent tax increase. That would have raised $360,000 for the city and would have partially funded Engine 9.

"We are going to be lower than we have ever been with a population that we have, and our population continues to rise but we continue to have less public safety workers," City Council president Ben Stuckart said.

But Condon argued that times are changing and this means the city needs to build a fire department of tomorrow.

"As we get into the future I would not only look at the headcount but look at our calls for service, our firefighters today are much more capable, they are better trained than the ones from 20 years ago," he said.