Yakima Fire's public education job eliminated with 2019 budget approval
YAKIMA, Wa. -- The Yakima City Council is once again eliminating the Fire Department's Public Education Captain position to move forward with next year’s budget.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, council members finalized and approved the 2019 budget with one exception, to eliminate the Fire Department's Public Education Captain position and transfer the salary savings to the city’s general reserve fund.
Councilwoman Holly Cousens who initiated the motion says they need to be responsible with the city’s money.
“Just really the state that our reserve is in, I feel that it is fiscally irresponsible for us to leave the reserve in the situation that it is in and if we can find ways to be financially stable then we need to do so," said Cousens.
Initially both the police department's public information officer and the fire’s public education captain positions were going to be eliminated.
After two public hearings where locals expressed concerns in eliminating the fire’s public education captain position, the council decided to bring it back, but now eliminated it again.
But City Manager Cliff Moore says restoring the captain’s position means $160,000 would be taken away from the city’s general reserve fund.
And with the reserve fund being low Moore says that money is going to help bring it back up to what the city requires.
“We should have about 16.7 percent of our general fund expenditures as an operational reserve that’s two months of operational reserve. Our fund balance right now is probably at the end of this year probably be around 11 percent," said Moore.
Many locals previously said the elimination of the captain position could negatively affect the departments day to day work.
Council members Kay Funk and Carmen Mendez also did not agree with the elimination of the captain position saying it is important because that person educates the public on fire safety.
“I think it is disrespectful and destructive to the important public safety mission of the fire department," said Funk.
“It’s unfortunate that this is the route that we’re taking. I won’t be supporting this," said Mendez.
The person in the captain position will be moved to another position within the fire department.
For information on the approved 2019 budget, click here.