Although they were rescued in final negotiations, public safety resources in Mount Airy — including a highly regarded fire department medical program — were on the critical list as city officials doctored the 2017-2018 municipal budget.
After City Manager Barbara Jones presented the Board of Commissioners with a proposed general fund budget totaling $13.1 million, the board instructed her to reduce that to the $12 million mark.
When Jones returned with a pared-down package, it included noteworthy cuts in the public safety area, such as eliminating a medical-response program operated through the Mount Airy Fire Department.
It began as a first-responder effort in 1997 for cardiac calls and in December 2010 was expanded to included strokes, diabetes-related issues, cuttings/stabbings, overdoses, shootings, drowning/diving accidents, unresponsive persons and other emergencies.
The expanded program, which supplements efforts by the Surry County Emergency Medical Service and Mount Airy Rescue Squad to ensure swift response, was credited with saving seven lives in its first year alone.
The amended budget presented by Jones during a meeting on Friday afternoon called for slashing that program in order to reap an annual savings of $15,100. That and other cuts resulted from a “team effort” to identify possible reductions and actually was offered by Fire Chief Zane Poindexter, he said Tuesday afternoon.
Poindexter explained that in suggesting such changes, he considered the medical program for elimination rather than anything that would affect the core mission of his department: firefighting.
The amended budget also…
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