PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - The Petal Civic Center was packed with community members wanting their voices to be heard Monday night.
The city held a public meeting to allow people to do just that regarding budget issues the city is facing, including concerns over possible cuts to the fire department.
"Our Chief received an email from [Alderman] Clint [Moore], basically saying that we, which we took as the Board, were wanting to lay off nine firemen,” said Assistant Fire Chief Marion Sims.
“Originally, it was decided to wait until all the reimbursement runs out to let these nine firefighters go,” Sims said in the meeting. “It would save the city quite a bit of money.”
The proposed cuts to the fire department would be done by getting rid of the SAFER grant the city received in 2017 to hire nine additional firefighters.
Sims said he brought in the whole fire department and state fire officials to share information regarding the possible repercussions if nine firefighters are cut.
“Every rock was being looked at,” said Alderman William King. “We didn’t know, we got good information tonight. In Clint’s defense, when we are looking under every rock there is, that’s what we literally did.”
In the meeting, people had several questions regarding the possible department cuts.
"Does the budget that you guys have in majority for this year, does it involve cutting firefighters?” asked one woman.
"No,” said members of the Board.
“Do you foresee that happening next year?” asked the same woman.
"No firemen or policemen will be cut,” King said.
“Can you say that louder please?” asked the woman.
"No firemen or policemen will be cut due to the budget,” said King.
There will be a public hearing Sept. 3 regarding the city budget.