(Memphis) The Memphis City Council is getting an early start on budget talks.
On the hot seat Tuesday, Police and Fire, two departments whose budgets were reduced $6 million last year.
Fire Director Alvin Benson says it put a halt to new recruits and put the department in a brown-out, taking trucks off the street to reduce overtime.
This budget cycle, things could get worse.
“We don’t want to compromise coverage in anybody’s community, but if the money isn’t there, the bodies aren’t there, the brown outs become part of the conversation,” says Benson.
The police department is facing a similar crisis.
Police Director Toney Armstrong cut one recruiting class, stopped some promotion testing, reduced overtime and cut materials and supplies to cover unexpected expenses like the $500,000 to fund Rape Kit testing.
“I know a lot has been said about Blue Crush detail. We might have to scale back on that as much as necessary to keep us from coming in over budget” says Armstrong.
Some council members question why recently hired officers didn’t go to patrolling the streets but were put in back offices.
Police say when civilian positions are cut, police have to fill the jobs.
“We have a tale of two cities on this issue and they are both coming from the same administration,” says Memphis City Council Member Shea Flinn.
City Council members are left to sort it out.
“The only answers are cuts, more cuts or tax rate increase. That’s the only alternative you face and that’s where we are at this point,” says Memphis City Council Member Bill Boyd.
These budget talks are still in the early stages.
The departments still are putting numbers to paper to present to the Mayor, who will give a final budget to the city council,
Budget hearings will be held in April and May.