Findlay residents worried over big public safety cuts - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Findlay residents worried over big public safety cuts

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FINDLAY, OH - The police and fire departments in Findlay will soon be shrinking to numbers last seen in the 1980s.

That's because city leaders are following through on big budget cuts after voters in the Flag City rejected an income tax on the November ballot.

Some residents are worried about what this will mean for public safety and emergency response times.

The mayor says a total of 39 city employees will be laid off.

The first round of notices have begun to go out this week.

For those people from various departments including the recreation, zoning, and engineering departments, their final day at work will be five days before Christmas.

The bulk of the layoffs won't happen until May of next year.

The mayor says that's when 21 firefighters will be laid off. Plus, she plans to close Fire Station Four.

Fire Station Four is on the chopping block.

It's the newest station in Findlay with a training facility in the back and located near a busy shopping area.

"Defeating the levy was a terrible thing to do," says Richard Billings.

Billings lives a few blocks away from Station Four.

"I think people should realize that some taxes are good for us," says Billings.

Once a grant expires in May, Mayor Lydia Mihalik says the city will likely close Station Four and lay off 21 firefighters with the least seniority. That'll bring the total number in the department to 48.

The average age of a Findlay firefighter will be 45 years old.

"We're going to have to look at shutting trucks down, different run districts," says Mayor Mihalik.

No police officers will be laid off. However, the City of Findlay is getting more than half a million dollars in savings from the Police Department through attrition. The city is not replacing five officers who left or retired.

That brings the police department down to 56 officers and means officers will no longer respond to some low priority calls.

"Stolen bikes,non-injury accidents on private property, parking complaints on private property. Those types of things that in the past we might've gone out and tried to resolve," says Mayor Mihalik. "We're not going to be able to have the people on the street to be able to handle that."

"I think it's going to be difficult with services cut," says Billings. "You want enough people to maintain the good services that we've had in the past."

"The average person is not going to vote themselves a tax," says John Smith, a 68-year-old who has lived in Findlay his whole life.

Smith supported the failed quarter percent income tax levy and believes once the community feels the effects of the public safety cuts they'll change their mind.

"In the long run I think they'll probably pass the levy again when they put it on there," says Smith.

Mayor Mihalik says she has had no discussions yet about going to voters again with a levy.

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