DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Firefighter Cal Motsch hit the streets he
protects in an effort to rally public support for local public
safety jobs which are threatened by the city's budget cuts.
Motsch, wearing a shirt that read "Proud to be an American
firefighter," handed out pamphlets to Dubuque residents Thursday.
The pamphlets have a picture of a firefighter and a little girl on
the front and explain how budget cuts could affect public safety.
As Motsch handed out the pamphlets, he told residents that two
fire stations, including the one where he works, could be closed.
"Actually, you guys live in our district and we're the first
ones here if you need help," Motsch said to one person.
He was among 30 firefighters and their families who handed out
the pamphlets Thursday.
Dubuque City Manager Mike Van Milligen has proposed budget
reductions totaling more than $2.6 million. The deficit is due to
less state aid and increasing health care costs.
The city's net operating budget for public safety could be cut
11.2 percent for fiscal year 2004, taking as much as $791,385 from
the police department and $649,003 from the fire department. The
dispatch center could lose as much as $55,970.
Department managers have been asked to make recommendations to
the city manager, who will present his proposals at a city council
meeting next week.
Fire Chief Dan Brown suggested three options, including the
elimination of nine positions and closure of two fire stations.
In response, the Dubuque Professional Firefighters Association
created 15,000 pamphlets to distribute throughout the city.
Thomas Ready, president of the firefighters union, plans to make
more pamphlets to reach every house and apartment in Dubuque.
"Our attempt is to inspire the public to call the city council
members," he said.
The pamphlets say cutting firefighters or closing stations would
increase response time to all emergencies.
In addition to calling council members, the union is encouraging
citizens to attend a public budget hearing in July.
The firefighters union, along with the Dubuque Police Protective
Association, also paid to post 500 fliers at local businesses and
run radio advertisements.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)