ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY, PA (WTAJ) — Altoona police and fire departments will lose some jobs due to budget cuts. Altoona City Council made the decision on Wednesday night to cut 15 public service jobs next year through attrition.
Since the start of October, the city council has been discussing ways to save money after the pandemic put a dent in their budget. On Wednesday, they voted unanimously to eliminate some public service positions. Altoona City Councilman Jesse Ickes says “ultimately when you go two and a half to three months with businesses not being permitted to be open, obviously, that trickle-down effect of tax revenue and people working and living in the city is going to have an impact on the municipal level…We don’t have wiggle room to do much of anything but meet contractual obligations, fund our pensions and those costs alone are quite the bulk of the operational side of the budget.”
Council says these jobs are filled now by officers and officials who plan to retire in 2021. This includes 7 jobs within the police force, 3 fire, 2 public works, and 4 admin support staff. These cuts will allow the council to replace upwards of one million dollars that were lost this year. Ickes says this was the best way to cut expenses without raising taxes. He tells us “this isn’t falling off of a trampoline tough, this is falling from the fourth story tough so what the future holds. I hope anything is better in 2021 than in 2020.”
We spoke with the president of the Altoona firefighters union who says they’re being understanding of the financial situation and look forward to working with city leaders to help solve any problems.