Waterloo City Council holds budget work session - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo City Council holds budget work session

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An area city council held a work session this weekend discussing their budget and how it could affect city employees. Waterloo City Council members discussed cuts within the police and fire departments, along with other city departments.

The meeting started at 9:00 a.m. Saturday and lasted for much of the afternoon as the city council listened to each department talk through how the potential budget cut would impact them.

First up was Waterloo Police.

"We are, in my personal opinion, understaffed, underfunded," said Major Joe Leibold, Waterloo Police Department.

Major Leibold approached the council with a PowerPoint presentation to show how a budget cut would affect the police department. He says the budget would cut into the department's special divisions, including the Violent Crime Apprehension Team and the Safe Streets Task Force. 

"We would lose at 2.5% somewhere between five and 12-15 officers," said Major Leibold. "Really unacceptable from a law enforcement standpoint from the services we can provide, so we'd have to reduce our services and scale back to patrol and investigations."

The city council asked the departments for an impact statement on a 2.5% and 5% reduction of the budget. For Waterloo Fire, a 2.5% reduction would cut four firefighters and close station six for up to 200 days.

"At the 5% level we consider that to be a what I would say catastrophic," said Chief Pat Treloar, Waterloo Fire Department. "We are projecting to permanently close a fire station."

Both fire and police are hopeful their budgets don't get cut.

"Losing staff anywhere for us is critical," said Major Leibold. "We've been very successful over the last several years with the crime rate and providing public safety...because we've become such a team with every unit working together any piece of that puzzle affects that team and it reduces our ability to function."

"If you cut us further it's going to reduce our ability to service the community," said Chief Treloar.

On the other hand, council member Pat Morrissey is asking the council to look at other options.

"I ask other council members, Mr. Mayor, that we keep an open mind to this," said councilman Morrissey. "Which does include having to raise taxes, if we need to raise taxes, to give our residence the departments ability to give them the service that they deserve."

"I've got confidence in the council and in the mayor that if there are any cuts the cuts will be fair and with our citizens in mind," said Chief Treloar.

The Waterloo Police Department says if they were able to get a 2.5% increase in their budget, they'd be able to add two more officers. Waterloo Fire says if money wasn't an issue they'd add a seventh fire station.

City council members also listened to impact statements from planning, building and leisure services. If you'd like to review the meeting minutes or see the department's presentations CLICK HERE.

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