Tonight Petersburg City Council held a budget work session and emotions were tense at times. Council Charlie Cuthbert passionate with real estate questions while talking to the Treasurer Kevin Brown. “I take my work seriously, so for you to say I’m not serious about my work is incorrect,” Brown said in response to Cuthbert. Cuthbert is new to City Council and began with a lot of questions.
The biggest takeaway from this budget session for a lot of people is one part of the proposed budget. It will give Firefighters, Police, and Emergency Communications Officers the full salary they used to receive. First responders were included in the 10% pay cut for city employees. If this is approved the increase will start in April 2017. The Fire Department seems to have been hit the hardest with equipment repossessions and firefighters leaving the department. Several pieces of equipment has malfunctioned and they have gone without EMS vehicles for extended periods of time. They are receiving help from all across the area from responding to calls to borrowing equipment.
Another caveat to this discussion that Cuthbert wanted to discuss was the proposed closing of the Johnson Road fire station. This would make response times to Petersburg High School, Richard Bland College, and the surrounding area slower. There are a lot of ways to make money, sell real estate, sell excess vehicles, sell sporting teams, sell golf courses, even outsource our public works. But do we really believe that closing a fire station is the best option?
Petersburg leaders are looking towards real estate next to try and make more money. The problem is they still aren’t making enough money. Suggestions have also been made that the city should sell their baseball team the “Petersburg Generals”. We can also expect some more lay-offs in the future as leaders try to keep the budget balanced.