ANDERSON – After a lengthy discussion, the Anderson Common Council approved the transfer of funds to purchase new police vehicles and a new ambulance.
Following a caucus Thursday by the Democrat members of the council, it appeared the requests to transfer $430,000 in the police and fire department budgets would be tabled for several months.
But after Jason Fenwick, Anderson City Controller, assured council members that the funding was available in 2014 to prevent layoffs in the two departments, the transfer request was approved.
Council President David Eicks asked Fenwick about whether the 2014 city budget would revert back to the 2013 amount because of a missed Indiana Department of Local Government Finance public hearing meeting.
“I feel the city needs the ambulances,” he said. “But if we revert back to the 2013 budget, will there be the funding for 114 firefighters?”
Eicks suggested the funding request be tabled until a decision on the 2014 budget is finalized by the state.
“We need a guarantee about staffing,” he said. “The staffing levels are not maintained in the budget.”
Fenwick said a decision may not be known until the end of March.
“We will have available funds,” he said. “There will be no impact on manpower. We’re not anticipating layoffs of city employees.”
Fenwick said the police department budget for 2014 has the funding to maintain the staffing levels and the fire department will need an additional appropriation for next year.
On Friday, Fenwick said the 2013 approved general fund budget is $30.4 million and the requested 2014 budget is $31.4 million.
Brent Holland, deputy chief with the Anderson Fire Department, explained the department has six ambulances, three for primary duty and three back-ups.
“They’re high mileage and constantly breaking down,” he said. “There have been times when the city only had one ambulance in service covering the entire city because the other five were being repaired.