Opelousas city departments express concerns over proposed cuts

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OPELOUSAS, La (KLFY) – We brought you a story Wednesday about the Opelousas City Council being at odds over the city’s budget.

It appears the council can’t agree on where to get the funds to satisfy a more than $400,000 deficit.

Some board members are suggesting cuts across the board to city departments, including fire and police.

“We praying that the budget get adopted and they don’t have to make the cuts that they want to make,” said Opelousas Fire Chief, Charles Mason.

Both departments are currently operating at 50% of their budgets.

“They’re proposing to cut $400,000 from my budget,” said Opelousas Police Chief, Donald Thompson. “It’s some things that I’m going to have to cut, some decisions that I’m going to have to make that will be uncomfortable.”

Chief Thompson says those cuts would include: officer trainings, medical expenses for inmates, and cutting overtime. He adds the department is already struggling and understaffed.

“When I became chief in 2015, I started off working with at least 25 police officers short,” said Chief Thompson, he says he’s still 25 officers short.

As for the fire department, they’re making ends meet understaffed as well.

“We’re not fully staffed, but we’re 3 people short,” said Chief Mason.

Chief Mason says the proposed cuts will also affect his department a great deal.

“We’re not able to implement some programs we’d like to implement or do certain things like purchase some equipment,” said Chief Mason.

Chief Mason says the bigger picture is this affects the public as well.

“We’re going to continue to give the public the best services the fire department can give and that’s to for everyone in the city to give the best services for our citizens and we’re going to continue on providing for our safety the best we can,” said Chief Mason.

Both chiefs say they will continue to look at their budgets to see where cuts can be made if it comes to that point.

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