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Anderson reduces cuts to fire, police departments

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The Anderson City Council approved a 2013 budget that will allow the central Indiana city to lay off fewer police officers and firefighters than the mayor had proposed because of a projected decline in tax revenues.

The council voted 8-1 Monday night to approve the budget, which cuts nine firefighter and three police officer positions instead of the 20 firefighter and nine police positions Mayor Kevin Smith proposed, The Herald Bulletin reported.

Dozens of people packed the council chambers as members approved $1.3 million in alternative cuts and directed money to the police and fire departments.

Smith said the council's plan will leave the city with no operating balance, "little if any contingency funds," and ongoing uncertainty about how much tax revenue it will actually collect.

The proposal from council Vice President David Eicks cuts spending from areas such as police and firefighter training, municipal development and parks. The plan also cuts three positions each from the municipal development office and the street department.

"The intent of this was to try and eliminate any layoffs," Eicks said.

The 2013 city spending plan offered the mayor would have left the 56,000-person city with 107 police officers and 104 firefighters.

Off-duty police officers, firefighters, their families and other city union employees filled the City Council room for its two-hour budget debate after hundreds protested the proposed cuts during a rally earlier this month.

Kelsey Carter, the wife of an Anderson firefighter, told the council she understood "there's only so much money in the pot," but argued that cutting public safety jobs could endanger the lives of the remaining police officers and firefighters.

"I would urge you as a council not to cut even one," she said.

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