Proposed budget cuts could have major impact on Martinsville police, fire and school system

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) Martinsville officials are considering a 5 percent budget cut for multiple departments.

This would not only affect the school system, but how many people respond when you call 911.

A 5 percent cut to the fire department's budget would mean cutting the number of part-time firefighters.

That would leave only 6 firefighters on duty during the day in Martinsville.

If multiple calls come in, there would only be two firefighters left for emergencies.

"The sad reality of it is, there may be situation where we show up with those two firefighters and someone is trapped inside of the house, a pet is trapped inside of the house and with two firefighters showing up, we are not going to be able to enter that structure," Martinsville Fire Chief Ted Anderson said.

Chief Ted Anderson says his employees are having a hard time coping with that possibility.

OSHA requires two firefighters to be outside of a building if two firefighters are inside.

"Our firefighters don't like it. I've spoken to them directly and they've told me, they've said, I don't know if i'll be able to do that," Anderson said.

Anderson says the department is already understaffed and it's been like that for years.

In the mid 90's to early 2000's, the department started transporting medical calls, increasing their numbers from 500 calls a year to over 3,000.

"We are going to do all we can to not let it affect the service we provide," Anderson said.

Anderson says the potential budget cut did not come as a surprise.

The City Manager and finance director have been working closely with all departments.

"And we've talked about that quite a bit with our council members and during the year with our staff so people knew this was coming" Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki said.

The proposed budget cuts a total of $2.3 million.

"As we've done this, fortunately for the most part the services and the level of service we provide for the citizens, we've continued to be able to maintain that in the same fashion," Towarnicki said.

Towarnicki says the police department is working to balance the cut with officers retiring.

He says the school system is not only fighting the cuts but asking for an increase this year.

There will be a public hearing on the budget at Tuesday's council meeting.

The final approval and vote will happen in May.