Packed courtroom attends city council committee meeting; job losses concern city

By: Howell Dennis
CROWLEY - A packed courtroom, many wearing yellow t-shirts in support of the Crowley Police and Fire Departments, attended the council's committee meetings Thursday night. The main concern of those in attendance was the possible job losses of five members of the police department and three members of the fire department. The concerns, however, drew members of other city departments that stand to suffer losses.

Crowley's Main St. Association, which stands to lose its lone paid employee, Rita Johnson, was strongly represented as Johnson, artist Robert Baxter and Raynell Gilder pled with the council for Johnson's job.

In the original cuts that were proposed by Mayor Greg Jones as well as the Revenue and Finance Committee the job losses were as follows:

General Administration - Less one employee last year and one this year.

Police - Less three police and two dispatchers this year.

Fire - Less three employees this year and one last year.

Code Enforcement - Less two employees this year.

Street - Less five employees this year.

Youth Recreation Operation - Deleted summer camp.

Youth Recreation Building Maintenance - Less one employee this year.

Main Street - Less one employee this year (Department deleted)

Several members of the community and council - notably Alderman Vernon 'Step' Martin - spoke out against the layoffs. However, the consensus was that with the city's financial situation some jobs will have to be cut.

Alderman Steven Premeaux motioned to save the jobs of three Crowley Police Officers and three Crowley Firemen. His motion was seconded by Alderman Jeff Dore.

None of the decisions will be made final until Tuesday's City Council meeting.

"My job hasn't been real easy the past three months," said Mayor Jones. "There are 140 people who work for this city that will be impacted by these cuts. We've had a double whammy with this recession that people are refusing to call a depression and then with the BP oil spill that skyrocketed unemployment."

Crowley Chief of Police K.P. Gibson kept his comments short.

"I speak for one department," said Chief Gibson. "I'd like you to consider the fact that crime is on the rise. I know you face a tough decision."

Fire Chief Jody Viator reminded the council that if they lose one more fireman than the Class 2 rating that the fire department now has will be dropped and insurance rates will go up.

There will be much more on the meeting in our Sunday edition of The Crowley Post-Signal and online soon.

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