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City of Savannah confirms layoffs, discusses fire fees to balance budget

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(Credit: Shelbey Roberts)

Savannah City Council says it's staring down a potential budget hole.

"In reality, we are short of money to operate this budget that we've got coming forward," said Mayor Eddie DeLoach during Thursday's council meeting.

Now, council members are scrambling to find a solution before year's end.

By the end of December, the city will get rid of 97 staff positions. Some of those roles include engineers, internal auditors, 11 ambassadors, 21 community resource officers and the Crimestoppers coordinator role.

Alderman Van Johnson said 60 city employees will actually lose their jobs as part of the cuts.

"Obviously, if these were things that we were talking about doing, obviously I think we should've been doing this a long long time ago," Johnson said.

In addition to layoffs, council members passed a resolution to come up with a plan for how to implement a fire fee for property owners. Over the next few weeks, they'll look at how much that fee might be and if any groups will receive discounts.

Alderman Julian Miller said, "Somewhere in here we've got to figure out how we're going to provide the services to this city. It's going to cost money."

Council members say the fee would free up money in the city's general fund by creating new money for fire services. But not everyone is in favor of the idea.

"These fees will be passed on to the property owners," said Savannah resident Paul Mosley. "And if you have investment properties, these property owners are not going to eat these fees. They're going to pass it onto the people who are renting these properties."

Others say they're worried about how quickly council is moving on this issue.

"The perception of it is is that this is something that's been done quick. It's being rammed down the people's throat without them having time to study it," said Tim Mackey.

City council will vote on fire fees on Nov. 21.