Residents speak out about unknown future of their public safety - WNEM TV 5

Residents speak out about the unknown future of their public safety

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

About 100 Saginaw residents were at Tuesday night's meeting at Beacon of Hope Church on Saginaw's southwest side.

Many of the residents are concerned about possible cuts and the future of public safety.

"You have a crime being committed, you call 911, yeah, they might be able to get there tomorrow," is what one resident said he's concerned with happening.

The city's staring at a $3.2 million budget deficit.  Right now, the microscope is on the city police and fire services.

"There are certain services that the state requires us to provide, and police and fire are not two of them," Saginaw Mayor Greg Branch said to the men and women at the forum.

But residents aren't too keen on that idea.  Tuesday night, one idea brought up by residents was to cut the fat from the top. Branch said that has been done and the cuts to public safety is what they have left, even though he says he knows the ramifications.

"Every time we've retreated, things have gotten worse, it's eroded our quality of life in the city," said Branch.

Because the city's at its breaking point, 36 police and fire employees could be without a job beginning July 1. That would drop the number of police to 55 and firefighters to 35.  There have also been talks about Saginaw County Sheriff Bill Federspiel contracting his department's services to the city, but those talks are at a standstill.

"We have to pool our resources, we have to sacrifice, we have to work together to make sure we can continue to be independent and we can grow from there," said one resident at the forum.

One item brought up at the meeting is potential legislation that could bring in more money to the city. Branch told the audience about lawmakers considering a law that would allow cities, like Saginaw, to collect more income taxes from people who work in the city but live outside of the city.  Right now, Saginaw residents who live and work in the city pay 1.5 percent, while non-residential workers pay three-fourths of a percent. Branch said increasing non-residential rates going up could help balance the budget and potentially help increase revenues by $6 million.

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