Omaha, NE-Tuesday night the public had a chance to talk about how the city spends their tax dollars. Omaha city hall was packed. It was the public's first chance to weigh in on the mayor's 2014 budget.
Public testimony went on for more than an hour and a half. 26 people signed up. Each got about 3 minutes. While the comments varied-many people talking about a sustainability position or funding a police department auditor, the hottest topic was the fire department budget.
Stothert's budget gives $90.6 million to the department. At a budget hearing last week the fire chief said that is still $3 million less than what they need to operate. Stothert said her compromise still gives the department more than they got last year. Even still, Stothert has some cuts made - like taking some engines out of service, and cutting the number of assistant fire chiefs.
Tonight it seemed the room was split - some for, some against.
"I think the fire department should have enough funds, but they should be held accountable for all their money," one resident said.
"I just drove past the fire station. Just the other day at 2 PM. Broad Sunny light and the outdoor lights to the building are on," another tax payer chimed in.
"We'll be putting a price on our lives. I think my life worth a little bit more than these negotiations," a third said during the hearing.
Fire union president Steve LeClair told the Council, he's been in lengthy talks with mayor Stothert but that cuts shouldn't be on the table.
"The prospect of laying off firefighters, closing stations, shutting down apparatus, should scare the hell out of us," LeClair said.
City council members have two weeks make any changes to the budget. They will vote on it in two weeks, August 27th.