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Lompoc fire, police departments consider cuts as city tries to balance budget

Posted at 6:33 PM, Mar 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-28 22:21:32-04

The Lompoc Fire and Police Departments could have to make staffing cuts if the city doesn’t find new revenue streams.

The Lompoc Fire Department is actively training two new recently-hired firefighters. The department is fully staffed now but Battalion Chief Brian Federmann worries that might change if the city doesn’t find more funding in its budget for public safety.

“What (the city was) looking at is an 8.5 percent cut for each department in the General Fund so we’re being tasked with bringing forward a little over $500,000 cut to the fire department specifically. The finance director outlined that would potentially be four positions within the fire department,” Federmann said.

He says the department’s call volume continues to increase and if they take away firefighters, they’ll be forced to go back to outdated staffing numbers.

Prior to an increase in staffing in 2014, the staff at the fire department had not increased since the 1980s.

“In 1986, our call volume per year was 1,200 calls and now we’re running 4,400 calls per year, so we’re already outdoing our resources. We’re already seeing times when all three of our apparatus are at emergencies,” Federmann explained.

The Lompoc Police Department is faced with similar options.
Sgt. Kevin Martin says they’ve been making cuts to the department for several years and don’t have much more to give up.

“We’ve cut so much from the previous years that cutting any more is really going to affect the service we provide the community and ultimately shutting additional services down,” Sgt. Martin explained.

Both departments say they’re hoping the city can find other revenue streams so they’re not forced to make cuts they say could put public safety at risk.

“You know, that’s unfortunate for the community and as people have seen that some of the increases in crime we’ve had in our community are directly related to the fact we don’t have the officers out there turning over stones as we should,” Martin said.

City Manager Jim Throop and Mayor Janelle Osborne tell KSBY either creating a one percent sales tax measure or increasing the hotel tax are the only feasible ways to increase revenue, but tax measures take at least six months before revenue starts coming in.

All of these issues will be discussed by the city council at their next budget hearing on April 17 at 6:30 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.