Athens’ 2020 budget does not include more police officers, firefighters

Athens’ 2020 budget does not include more police officers, firefighters

ATHENS, Ala. (WAFF) - Monday night, the Athens City Council approved 2020′s budget, but it does not include the money to hire the police officers and firefighters that leaders wanted.

Both the police and fire chief were vocal about the need for more people on the street, and residents in Athens are listening. Several at the meeting said something needs to be done.

City leaders say that’s exactly what they’re doing by taking time to map out the best way to keep people safe.

Police officials say they’re about seven officers short of other cities of the same size. Adding those officers would cost around $700,000.

Fire Chief Bryan Thornton said he needs three firefighters and a fire truck, which comes in at little over $1 million. That money isn’t available right now.

Athens leaders say they are hopeful a solution can be found sometime over the next year.

“As soon as we get through the budgets tonight, we will lay out a finance plan for the City Council to look at, not only the possibility of bringing up some of these salary structures but also to add some of these police officers,” said Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks.

Salaries are a big part of the financial plan moving forward as both the police and fire departments work on retaining employees with better wages.

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