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Saint John to make budget cuts to police, fire and transit services in 2021

Saint John is planning cuts to internal workforce to make up for the projected $10 million deficit in 2021. Travis Fortnum/Global News

Saint John is expecting a $10 million deficit next year and is planning major cuts to city services to find cost savings.

City manager John Collin recommended accounting for 60 per cent of the projected deficit through workforce adjustments.

In a press release, the city announced an increase in proposed cuts to fire and police services.

Saint John police will have to cut budget by $1.3 million, up from the $1.175 million proposed in January.

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The fire department will be getting a $1.875 million cut, and transit will see a reduction of $850,000.

The new numbers accounted for an additional $1 million.

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City manager John Collin says this was a difficult decision, but council is committed to controlling costs.

“The goal is to realign the delivery of quality municipal services on a smaller, affordable budget.”

This year, Saint John has been assisted through a unique $22.8 million funding agreement with the province. But, this is set to expire in December.

In early May, Global News reported that Jeff Carr, New Brunswick’s minister of local government said Saint John, has not done enough to fix its finances, and it won’t get any more help until it does.

Click to play video: 'Head of Saint John Police Association calling on province’s support'
Head of Saint John Police Association calling on province’s support

Carr encouraged the city to take the steps required to demonstrate its commitment to building a sustainable future without financial constraints.

The plans to reduce Saint John’s city management positions and inside staffing have already been approved by council.

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The fire services union will consult with its staff and the city before proposing a plan to council June 22.

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“We must put the best interest of taxpayers first and get the city in a stronger financial position where we can afford the services we offer and begin to grow,” Mayor Don Darling said in the Tuesday press release.

Saint John Transit is conducting an operational audit to decide the best design for the city on a reduced budget.

The release says the transit focus will be on priority neighborhoods and main routes.

The audit is expected to be completed by August, with final recommendations on 2021 cuts to services.

With files from Tim Roszell. 

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