A local city's public services will now become one department.
The Pere Marquette depot in Bay City was packed Monday night as residents and city employees waited for the city's decision.
In a 6 to 3 vote, the city commission voted to merge the police and fire departments.
City officials say the effort will help slash the $2 million dollar budget deficit the city is facing. Commissioners say this was a last ditch effort to keep public safety intact.
"It's not easy, and it's tough to make that decision, but we have to think of the community as a whole," said Bay City police Chief Michael Cecchini.
Some Bay City police officers begin their cross-training Tuesday. As part of this plan, 14 or 15 firefighters are expected to lose their jobs. Eventually, 24 Bay City police officers capable of fighting fires will be out on the streets.
Commissioners told the people packed into the Pere Marquette building that the city's budget is on life support. The city is dealing with a tough deficit, and Commissioner Chad Sibley said city accounts will be drained quickly with no action.
"We don't have any money, and in three years we're going to be bankrupt - we won't have nothing," Sibley said.
And that's why commissioners said this tough decision had to be made. By July of next year, the first wave of police officers will have cross-training to fight fires. In fact, some officers will leave on Tuesday for firefighter training.
Plenty of Bay City residents are speaking out about the decision on the WNEM Facebook page.
Jamie Deuscher wrote, "What are they doing with our taxpayer dollars?. I know we sure pay enough. I think they need to elect new commissioners."
Jaclyn Miller writes, "Good Bye Fire Station #2 in the South end, I used to love taking my kids to see the station and the firefighters. I wonder how fast the station on center will get to homes on Southend if there is an emergency?"
You can also share your opinion, just visit the WNEM Facebook page.
Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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