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Mayor: Fire Fee to be cut in half, but big cuts in City services expected
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Responding to a growing volume of outrage from businesses, nonprofits, churches, and citizens about the controversial new Fire Fee, Mayor Eddie DeLoach today announced that he will direct City Manager Rob Hernandez to formulate a "Plan B" which will cut the Fire Fee payments at least in half — but the Mayor threatens that deep and severe budget and service cuts will have to happen as a result.

"It's obvious we're moving too fast and we have not communicated this in the best manner... We brought too much change too quickly," said the Mayor.

Saying "We understand we need to move on to Plan B," the Mayor will ask the City Manager for a new plan to include a way to cut all Fire Fee payments by more than half.

"Make no mistake: This plan will include difficult cuts," including "no less than five percent of non-safety employees," the Mayor said.

"DeLoach says he will push to "eliminate unnecessary programs." He says," I ask that everything be on the table for cuts other than public safety."

DeLoach said that the Fire Fee issue was the most controversial local issue since the crime wave which was largely responsible for him getting elected in 2015.

Saying "time is of the essence" in coming up with a new budget, the Mayor said he hopes the new plan can be adopted in time for the deadline for the City to set  property tax millage rates next month.

The new Fire Fee rate will start at $120 a year instead of the planned $256 a year for a basic single-family home, the Mayor says.