"Emergency Solution" in High Springs
It's nothing personal, according to city officials, budget issues are putting the city of High Springs in the red next year.
City manager Jenny Parham says cutting the Police Chief's salary and eliminating the Fire Chief completely, are the most logical solutions.
"I'm going to go today, on my own will, or I'll go on October 1st on theirs. I will not succumb to that forcefulness or that inflexibility," said Verne Riggall, High Springs Fire Chief.
The city's proposed 2011-2012 budget eliminates the fire chief's position, and cuts the police chief's salary by $20,000.
"They (city commissioners) said that I was a Mercedes, and they were looking for a Ford," said Jim Troiano, High Springs Police Chief.
However Troiano won't be sticking around for less money.
"I am very concerned with law enforcement in this community, we're continuing to be cut down," he said.
City officials terminated Troiano's five-year contract, and will be paying him $66,000 in severance pay.
"We're having to cut wherever we can, and that is very high salary. We've had people say, our public safety officers are very high salary," said Jenny Parham, City Manager.
Parham says Troiano's $100,000 a year salary with benefits is out of their price range.
"I feel that we left the departments covered. I don't think they'll be lacking," she said.
However Chief Riggall feels his position could have been saved, citing the addition of a "recreation employee" on the proposed budget that would cost the city $40,000.
"What is he going to do for public safety that we're doing, absolutely nothing," he said.
"You can look at any part of the budget, and say why don't we use this for that? And so any department could do that," said Parham.
Troiano says, even with an interim chief stepping in, the department will suffer.
"I'm more concerned with what's going to happen with these men and women as they go out and try to do their jobs with less," he said.
"We don't need to be reducing staff, we don't need to be reducing services, what we need to do is provide the service the community expects... this is not that service," said Riggall.
Lt. Bill Benck will serve as the interim Chief of Police, and Captain Bruce Gillingham will be the commanding officer at the fire department until a final decision is made.
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