By Michael Slother - email
LITTLEFIELD, TX (KCBD) - A financial crisis in Littlefield has the city trying to pay off 9.7 million dollars in debt. They're looking into coming up with the money by making cuts in public safety.
One proposed plan involves removing the paid positions of Assistant Fire Chief and Station Officer. That would leave the Fire Chief as the only professional staff.
The remaining duties would be left to the volunteer firefighters. The problem is, they're threatening to turn in their gear if the changes go through. That would leave the city with a huge hole in their Public Safety Department.
"They proposed that they'd cut 2/3 of our fire department paid staff and that'd put a lot of strain and stress on the volunteers and we have families, we volunteer to do it. We don't necessarily want to get paid or hang out at the fire station unless there's a fire, because we're volunteers," says Zac Dwyer, Littlefield Volunteer Firefighter.
Residents are concerned about the issue. Kenny Rucker, a local business owner, thinks all options should be explored before cutting from the fire department.
"I think they need to think this out a lot harder than what they're doing. People don't appreciate the services you have until you actually need them," Rucker said.
He isn't the only one worried about the city's plan. JoAnn Huckabey, Owner of the White Kitchen, shares her concerns.
"I mean, if we don't have the fire department, if we don't have the volunteers, we don't have anything," Huckabey continued. "Who is gonna come?"
The Littlefield City Council meets Thursday to discuss the issue. Concerned residents are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions.
Kenny Rucker plans on being in attendance. He says everyone has safety on their mind.
"They [Littlefield residents] want to feel like they're being safe, that their safety is not going to be compromised. Whether it be fire or whatever," Rucker explained. "If it starts with the fire department, where is it going to end?"
KCBD NewsChannel 11 will continue to follow this story throughout the week.
©2010 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved.