Duluth Firefighter's Union says city budget protects public safe - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Duluth Firefighter's Union says city budget protects public safety, police say they're looking for other options

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Budget cuts are on the horizon, and taxes set to increase in Duluth after city council passed the 2018 budget Monday night.

Originally introduced with the title, "Shared Sacrifice for the Greater Good," Mayor Emily Larson's budget made its way through council, and is set for 2018 with some minor changes after months of negotiation.

The final result, councilor Zack Filipovich said lives up to the mayor's original name.

"These are very very difficult decisions but they are the decisions that we need to be making," he said.

The budget includes a 10.19 percent tax increase, a 5.7 percent property tax increase and cuts across nearly every city department, all in the name of street improvement. 

After the initial proposal, the Duluth Firefighter's Union and its president Pete Johnson were among the more outspoken groups against these cuts.

"The reality was that in moving things around they were going to decrease the number of fire fighters on our trucks every day which does have an impact on our service," he said.

With calls for service increasing every year, union president Pete Johnson said it was vital for the city and department to find a compromise.

"We've got Chief Administrative Officer Montgomery's word and the mayor's word that it will not affect our staffing, which is the most important thing in terms of our safety as well as our citizens and visitors here in Duluth," he said.
Johnson said that was made possible through the reallocation of more than 700 thousand dollars from the city's reserve fund to pay for anticipated overtime costs.

While the fire department may not have to lose any staff, the same can't be said for police. 

Two amendments designed to reallocate funds to save records positions at the Duluth Police department failed, including one from Filipovich.

"Other councilors and I think administration really wanted to keep that one million dollars in addition of streets funding and that's a priority for me as well," he said.

With the mayor's promised one million dollars ear-marked for those streets, 2018's priorities are clear, nearly tripling the city's commitment to street repairs.

We reached out to the police department who declined to comment on the budget simply saying they're looking at other options.

You can see the full budget here:

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