Anderson preliminarily approves controversial budget

Indianapolis

The Anderson City Council preliminarily approved a controversial 2013 City budget in the first of three votes Thursday night, but requested changes be made.

The budget, submitted by Mayor Kevin Smith, would cut seven police officers and 23 firefighters in order to erase a $1.5 million budget deficit. Smith said the city lost revenue due to property tax caps and has to pay more for road repairs because the county cut a wheel tax.

Before a public hearing during Thursday's council meeting, dozens of people protested the budget and its cuts outside City Hall. People held signs that read 'SAVE OUR OFFICERS.'

During the public hearing, residents expressed their fears about the cuts. One woman told councilors, "I don't want to be the next victim."

Another resident added, "Public safety is your foundation of your city. When you break the foundation of a house, the house collapses."

Anderson's Police Chief told councilors public safety would not be jeopardized after the proposed cuts. However, council was not convinced and asked him to provide a written report of every change that might occur from the cuts.

After nearly three hours, council voted to approve the budget, but with several requests.

Councilors who voted 'yes' said they would switch their votes if the mayor could not find other line items to trim, besides public safety. Councilors who voted 'no' said they would vote 'yes' in the next hearing, if the police and fire unions did not find a way to give back and compromise with the city.

The final vote happens Oct. 23.

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