Fire Station Closure Delayed
(Memphis) A victory in the budget battle at the Memphis Fire Department: the city council decided to delay closing a North Memphis fire station.
The decision comes after a public safety meeting Tuesday afternoon where dozens of people showed-up to let City officials know they want it to stay open.
The mayor and some city council members have been pretty clear that cuts need to be made or taxes need to go up but because so many people showed-up to this meeting, they decided to delay closing Station 6 until September 1.
“I have just been bombarded with emails and telephone calls,” said Councilman Harold Collins.
Those people who called Collins are likely some of those who showed up Tuesday hoping to stop the city from closing the fire station.
“Why is it that we have to turn on Channel 3 and see that something is being closed that is going to impact us like that?” said Nina Williamson.
Williamson is one of dozens who wanted to see the City make a decision Tuesday to save the fire station. Councilman Joe Brown even proposed taking money out of city’s reserve to do it.
“We have the money to keep the fire station open,” said Brown. “Am I right, Councilman Harris?”
“You are correct,” said Councilman Lee Harris.
But in the end, the public safety committee decided that taking money out of reserves just weeks after the budget passed would be difficult to explain to the State comptroller.
Instead, the mayor says he will sit down with the fire and police chief to see what cuts can be done that wouldn’t involve closing precincts or fire stations.
As for cutting city positions through attrition though, the mayor says that was no surprise.
“That was said in the very beginning. All this was in the air. Out there,” said Memphis Mayor AC Wharton.
However, the mayor says cutting positions also means the potential closure of Station 6.
Not if the community has anything to say about it.
“If we have to increase our taxes for security and safety, I think it’s important but please don`t close that station,” said North Memphis Resident Doris Lewis.
The police chief says if the staffing challenges continue into next year, the police department may have to cut three precincts, including Mount Moriah and Raines.
The city council plans to talk about the budget issues again in about two weeks.