Information below direct from WFMZ 69 News
Dozens of Reading firefighters and police officers and their families turned out in force for a news conference by Mayor Tom McMahon this morning. They crowded into City Council chambers to hear McMahon address the proposal he presented to the police and fire unions yesterday.
McMahon seeks to cut 45 officers from the police force and 24 firefighters from the fire department. Eleven positions in the R.F.D. would remain unfilled. The cuts are aimed at helping to eliminate a $15-million shortfall in the city budget, which McMahon must present to City Council by October 1. The mayor also announced that the city is filing for Act 47, which would allow Reading to avoid bankruptcy and call on the state to oversee the city's finances.
The police and fire unions are upset with the proposals and say it's already hard for the police officers and firefighters to do their jobs with the level of staffing each department has now. The police department has 198 officers on the force. It's budgeted up to 204. The fire department has 120 firefighters and EMS personnel. Some of those in attendance at the news conference held signs saying "Cut Jobs, Cost Lives."
Many WFMZ.com readers are also angered by the mayor's plan and are expressing their outrage in our on-line forum.
"I know times are tough, but there are some areas of government that should never be cut and one of them is public safety," said one Reading resident.
"They can’t keep up with the call volume as it is with the men they have on the streets now," said the wife of a Reading police officer. "These guys are working their tails off every minute of everyday to keep our city as safe as it can possibly be."
Another reader envisioned a call to 911 going something like this, ""Hello, and thank you for calling 911! All of our officers and firefighters are currently busy. Please hold as the next available officer/fireman will be with you shortly. We thank you for your patience."