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Linton 2014 Budget Forces Public Safety Cuts

Linton Mayor and City Council reduced the budget by 15 percent from 2013 to 2014, but the reduction in budget caused personnel cuts coming from both police and fire departments.
The mayor and city council in Linton, Ind. were forced to decrease the budget by 15 percent for 2014 and much of that cut came from public safety.

"The police department has meant a lot to my family, and I just don't want to see any cuts," said Linton resident, Jackie Hale.

But she and other residents of Linton will be seeing three cuts within public safety. Two police officers and one firefighter to be exact.

"We have less money coming in, tax caps were less when the tax caps were on that cut our property tax money, county option income tax was less so we had to cut. So we don't have the money coming in," said Linton Mayor John Wilkes.

"When they passed the circuit breaker, told us that we were going to lay policemen off and that was in 2009-2010," said FOP President Paul Clark.

Mayor Wilkes said he and the city council cut $250,000 in what they called "fluff" from the city budget, but that still wasn't enough. Another $250,000 must come from the general fund that pays for public safety.

"Crimes not going to go down," Clark said. "Emergencies aren't going to go down. Probably expect the alternative. It's going to go up."

The police department only has 11 officers and the fire department employs nine firefighters. Citizens worry about their safety but Mayor Wilkes said the city just couldn't sustain the departments.

"We don't have any revenue sources coming in. We've done everything that we can to cut and hold back," said Mayor Wilkes.

"We met with the mayor time and time again, talked to him over and over again trying to prevent this from happening," Clark said.

Mayor Wilkes says the goal after these cuts is to not face the same tough decisions at the end of 2014. The hard part of the police and fire fighters of Linton will be deciding where to go from here.

"We'll see how the dust settles, pick up the pieces from there and move forward," Clark said.

The decision on which officers and fire fighter will be cut will be final in just a few weeks. From there, Paul Clark says the F.O.P. will work to sustain those officers lives until they can find a new job.
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