The Auburn City Council adopts a controversial budget for their 2012-2013 fiscal year. The spending plan that cuts six and a half positions, some of which caused the police chief to announce his retirement. Our Katie Gibas was at the budget adoption meeting Tuesday and tells us what these cuts will mean for Auburn citizens.
AUBURN, N.Y. -- In a standing room only crowd, more than a dozen people spoke against the six and a half position cuts in the Auburn City budget. But in the end, city councilors said they needed to take an aggressive approach to reduce a $5.3 million deficit.
"It's a very difficult situation the city is in. I feel terrible about some of the decisions we had to make, but unfortunately, we're faced with a budget deficit. If we don't try to align things this year, next year they're going to get more difficult," said John Camardo, an Auburn City Councilor.
Some of the most controversial cuts are coming to the police department. The budget calls for the elimination of the deputy chief position and a vacant detective position. A move that's causing the police chief to step down from his command.
"When I started this job as police chief, I did not have a deputy chief. I know the toll that took on myself and my family, and at this point in time, I'm not willing to do that again. I won't run the department by myself. It's a monumental task to run a police department because we're a 24-7 operation. One person cannot oversee that entire operation," said Gary Giannotta, the Auburn Police Chief. "The deputy chief's position is the first step in the police department as far as civilian complaints, internal investigations, and overseeing major investigations. I believe the elimination of that position is going to jeopardize some major investigations. The elimination of the detective position is going to make it more difficult for the detectives to do followup investigations. That responsibility is going to fall back to patrol, thereby taking patrol officers off the street longer."
The budget also calls for the elimination of the parking supervisor and a full time parking enforcement officer.
"Parking revenue is going to be greatly affected because it's based on the machines. If the machines aren't working properly and they shut down, the city loses revenue everyday that those machines are shut down. And currently in the city of Auburn, I am the only one who does any repair work on the city kiosks," said Julie Liccion, the Auburn Parking Supervisor.
Giannotta added, "The elimination of the parking supervisor I think is a huge mistake. She's the only person in the city that knows the responsibilities and duties of that job, and for the life of me, I have no idea who is going to take over the responsibilities once she's gone.”
In response to these concerns, city councilors say where possible, city employees are going to have to do more with less.
The last day for employees whose positions were cut will be July 31st.