Mayor Teresa Tomlinson also accused public safety department heads Tuesday of using the threat of layoffs to “maintain possibly inflated budgets.”
Tomlinson also announced plans to hold monthly council work sessions starting in July to review public safety department budgets, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported. She said the budgets would be examined “line by line” to see if there are places other than personnel to trim “fluff.”
City Council member Judy Thomas took issue with Tomlinson’s criticism of the public safety department heads.
“I do not believe that the fire chief, nor the police chief, nor the sheriff came to this council and presented anything to us that they did not believe was absolutely what they needed in their budget to do their job,” Thomas said.
“I believe that when we look at budgets and we see that the majority of funds in these budgets are personnel costs, and we have to cut these budgets dramatically, there are not a lot of places to cut,” Thomas added.
During recent budget review hearings, Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren said cutting the 1.5 percent Tomlinson wanted from his budget (and all other city budgets) would likely cost him 20 police officer positions.
Fire and EMS Chief Jeff Meyer said cuts would cost him 14 positions.
Sheriff John Darr said 59 deputies could be laid off as a result.
All three public safety officials received concessions from council, putting their budgets higher than the mayor’s proposals. Only Marshal Greg Countryman’s department took the full 1.5 percent cut.
In the budget review process, councilors added back a total of $2.62 million of cuts made to reach Tomlinson’s proposed $266.9 million budget. Of that $2.62 million, $2.4 million went to public safety.