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Thursday night's budget hearings were all about the two departments that keep you safe.
We'll start with the Police Department.
The City Council had asked the Police Department to find a way to cut 3 positions. So, Thursday night, the PD gave its suggestion.
The Street Level Drug Unit, created about 7 years ago, consists of 1 sergeant and 2 officers. They respond to reports of drug deals and suspicions of drug use.
Police Chief Doug Young says, while important, losing this unit would have the least amount of impact.
Chief Young said, "It will cause the uniformed officer, the patrol officer, to take up that slack. To respond to the smell of marijuana in an apartment, if they did a traffic stop and found drugs in a car, they would have to conduct that investigation on their own."
If approved, these positions would be lost through attrition.
Something else that came up, police presence in schools, something that's definitely been in the headlines for the past month.
"Is that a higher priority than the street drug task force?" asked Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott.
"In my opinion, it is. We get a lot of benefit from the interaction of the police officers with the kids in the schools," answered Chief Young.
Councilwoman Rhonda Capron said at Thursday night's meeting that she doesn't support the Police Department losing any positions.
And now, onto Sioux City Fire Rescue, where officials there have been asked to eliminate 1 position and it's one that's been on the chopping block before.
The Public Education Information Officer provides services to schools, homeowners, the media and countless other groups. In fact, Sioux City Fire Rescue estimates the PIO has interacted with a quarter of the folks in Sioux City.
A number of people stood at the podium in defense of the position, including a 6th grade student who remembers when the Public Education Officer came to her school.
Sacred Heart 6th Grader Elizabeth Clay said, "They taught me many things like the importance of the safety plan: not to panic, stop drop and roll and certain causes of house fires."
Sioux City Fire Rescue argues that any more reductions in the department will have major impacts to the public.
So Chief Tom Everett offered a different idea. Recently, Fire Rescue started charging businesses for its annual, required inspections. Everett suggests increasing those charges.
Fire Chief Tom Everett said, "Part of that, is the educational component that we offer to those businesses with the free training and so forth. So this year, I said, if we increase that fee slightly, we could cover the cost of this position."
If the Public Education Information Officer were eliminated, it would save the city $90,000.
The meeting was adjourned with no decision made. Final budget decisions are expected to be announced by the end of next month.