A budget deficit in the city of Chico could require drastic measures including reducing the police force and closing one fire station.
Chico City Manager Brian Nakamura released his proposed budget for the next fiscal year Wednesday morning.
It includes recommendations for big cuts to address a $4.8 million deficit.
Included in the proposed cuts is $1.1 million to the police budget—which could mean the loss of 19 full-time positions.
That might mean eliminating school resource officers on area campuses and a limited response to property and nuisance crimes.
The Chico Fire Department is also looking at cuts totaling about $800,000 or 7-percent of their budget.
Chico Police Chief Jim Beery says that as the budget is proposed, cuts to his department could result in the closure of one of the city's fire stations which would mean slower response times to emergencies.
Beery says it's simple math—longer response times are a threat to public safety.
"When those response times increase it should be no surprise that outcomes are worse" Chief Beery says. "If you're having a heart attack and we're delayed getting there and you're unconscious, your heart's stopped, you're not breathing anymore—seconds count. That's not being dramatic. Seconds can count in that situation."
Fire Station 5 near the entrance to Bidwell Park was shuttered this time last year to save $100,000.
And rumors swirled just last week that Station 3 at the airport would get the axe this time around—if it comes to that. But the impact to airport safety is likely too much for that to happen.
Right now—with this budget still needing approval from the city council—Chief Beery isn't saying what exactly he'll need to do—only that it looks like more cuts are inevitable.
Chico Police Chief Kirk Trostle wasn't available to comment on the cuts to his department.
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