The Republican American reports: Two years ago, Aaron Sapirman arrived home from work one Friday afternoon with his wife and kids to find his Overlook house spitting smoke.
The firefighters of Engine 6, who are stationed around the corner ine the Willow Street firehouse, were on Sapirman’s doorstep before he could end his 911 call. The crew put out a small cooking fire and vented the house for gas.
That experience is what drew Sapirman to the Thursday budget hearing and prompted him to plead with the Board of Aldermen to keep the Willow Street fire house open and Engine 6 intact, despite the tough economy.
“If we’re going to cut jobs, it can’t be the heroes,” Sapirman said. “They are the city’s and the state’s heroes. Heck, I’ll take one less tree (in a city park), but make sure my fire department is where it’s supposed to be.”
Sapirman was one of more than 100 people who attended what will likely be the final hearing before the Board of Aldermen adopt a city budget. One person after another called for a flat tax rate without cuts to police and fire service.
Unlike in past years, when budgets that called for no tax increase drew only one or two speakers to hearings, this year’s proposed $385 million budget and 2.81-mill tax increase attracted a crowd to Kennedy High School.
The Board of Aldermen’s budget committee has yet to finish its cuts to the spending plan from Mayor Michael J. Jarjura. On Wednesday, the budget group had tentatively agreed to cuts that would lower the tax increase to 1.6 mills.
It is waiting for possible budget concessions from the city’s blue collar union.
For the typical taxpayer, who owns a home with a fair market value of about $170,000, a 1.6-mill increase would mean a $200 tax increase instead of $300. That taxpayer would most likely see his or her water bill go up about $10 a year.