Belton firefighters protest proposed layoffs

BELTON, Mo. - Proposed cuts to the 2014 Belton city budget could means layoffs in the police and fire departments.

More than 40 people marched into Monday night's preliminary budget hearing wearing red shirts that read "Support Your Firefighters." The group was made up of dozens of Belton firefighters, their family and friends.

"We're hoping tonight makes an impact, and that our citizens start calling their councilmen and let them know," Fire Captain Steve Kratofil said.

The city is asking the police department to cut $269,830. The fire department is expected to cut $311,325. This also includes no raises and a health benefits rate increase.

"We're cut pretty slim as it is, and we're not a department that is overstaffed," Kratofil said. "These layoffs are irresponsible."

City Manager Ronald Trivitt reminded the audience this is just a proposal, but they need to prepare for layoffs.

"No one likes to make any cuts to personnel," he said.

Monday night's meeting was the first of several planned over the next two months.

"I feel for the people that are out there, but we have a job to do and that's what we're trying to do," Trivitt explained.

Over the next few weeks, decisions will have to be made on how to make up the more than $1 million needed to balance the 2014 budget.

The next budget meeting is scheduled for Feb. 23.

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