How County Budget Cuts Could Affect You in an Emergency Situation

By Lauren Forsythe | 

All Warren County Departments are being forced to each take a ten percent budget cut this year.

This includes cuts for Emergency departments, which could affect you in an emergency situation.

"Our first priority just like any government is the protection of the citizens and continued budget cuts is not going to allow that to happen. And I don't want to knock on the door of a family and tell them bad news just because of some budgets cuts," says Ronnie Pearson, director of Emergency Management.

In December, the Warren County Government voted against increasing the insurance premium tax.

The failed insurance tax increase and a decrease in property taxes is a devastating blow to public safety.

"We voted to not increase the revenue at the time. So, that was making it difficult to provide the ongoing services for emergency services for public protection," says County Judge Executive, Mike Buchanon.

"We're trying to come up with creative ways short-term to cover that deficit," County Magistrate, Dan Rudloff says.

While Warren County may have a balanced budget, the cuts could cause problems during severe weather.

Emergency Management may not be able to build additional tornado sirens this year, including new siren locations planned last year.

"Last week was a prime example of when these storms pop up and can do a multitude of damage fortunately we had no injuries but it's very possible," Pearson says.

The Warren County Fire Department needs 7 more stations to cover the county.

"Anyone who is beyond five miles from a responding fire station is subject to a class 10 rating which is basically no fire service," says Woodburn Fire Chief Bob Skipper.

And the Sheriff's Office was forced to get rid of a deputy position, slowing response time.

"When we had the slick streets, one deputy is gone, we had like 20 to 23 wrecks. He would probably work four of those wrecks, so it takes them longer," Warren County Sheriff Jerry "Peanuts" Gaines says.

Emergency officials agree, these budget cuts may endanger public safety.

The Sheriff's Office is the only emergency department whose proposed budget cuts have been finalized.

Emergency Management will present their budget cuts tomorrow in Warren County Fiscal Court.

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