City budget cuts, emergency services in jeopardy
In Illinois, Brookport Mayor John Klaffer is proposing cuts to the city’s first responder program.
Many questions were sent to us by viewers in Brookport, including, “Klaffer wants to make changes to Brookport, but why does it have to be the one that will affect people’s lives and homes?” And, “We need to know where the money has gone."
Klaffer welcomed us into his home and answered the tough questions. He tells us there is no extra money. They city was given a $1 million grant to rebuild city hall, but Klaffer says it was suspended about five weeks ago because of the Illinois budget battle. The city has $1.8 million, but it is only to repair roads from last year’s tornado damage. And, while the city has a surplus of $126,000, the mayor says that is needed for repairs and possibly a flood gate along the Ohio River.
The mayor says the city is doing better. "We’re still in recovery mode from the tornado situation, but we’re gaining ground,” he said. However, he expects a $100,000 loss this year in tax revenue. He adds cuts have to be made everywhere, even as small as office supplies.
Klaffer says he found room to save in many departments. That included the police department, were he cut 80 work hours a month and lowered the uniform fund. He says the fire department encompasses the first responder program, and it had room for savings, too. He wants only two responders to be paid for arriving at a scene to stabilize a patient before being transported elsewhere. He says that currently, anyone who is available can show up and be compensated.
He also wants to sell the city’s ambulance. He says since it can’t transport patients anyway, and he’d like to downsize to something like a van or utility truck. However, a first responder told us the amount needed of responders needed on a scene. The responder added that the ambulance is needed to hold certain equipment like the Jaws of Life. “What they do is a very important thing and I’m proud to have them, but we’re trying to keep them, Klaffer told us.