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Firefighters protest proposed budget cuts

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About 150 firefighters and their families protested the city’s budget proposal Tuesday night to cut $9.1 million from the Sacramento Fire Department. As part of press conference held to protest the cuts, the fire department staffers stood in a large group outside City Hall to show their opposition.

The city is facing a $39 million budget gap for the 2011/2012 fiscal year. The idea to make cuts to the Fire Department is included in the budget plan proposed by Interim City Manager Bill Edgar and Interim Deputy City Manager Betty Masuoka. Final decisions on the budget will be made by the Sacramento City Council next month.

A group called Protect Sacramento, led by Sacramento Area Fire Fighters Local 522 and the Sacramento Police Officers Association, held a press conference Tuesday evening to protest the proposed cuts. The press conference was held shortly before the start of a City Council budget hearing on the Fire Department.

The proposed cuts “will put neighborhoods at risk, lengthen response times, and stand in the way of our ability to deal with real life-and-death emergencies,” said Jaymes Butler, vice president of Sacramento Area Fire Fighters Local 522.

The proposed budget cuts to the department could increase the number of alternating closures of fire equipment and staffers. The number of these proposed closures was unclear at press time because the City Council on Tuesday night may approve a $5.6 million federal grant for the department. The grant may lessen the Fire Department cuts. The money comes from the federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant Program.

The Sacramento Press will provide an overview of the Fire Department budget hearing Wednesday morning.

Read the budget schedule here.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. 

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