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By Rene Ray De La Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted Jun. 6, 2015 at 5:36 AM

HESPERIA — With grant money running out, the city is facing the possibility of losing nine firefighters while adding ambulance personnel as it works on its 2015-16 fiscal year budget.

The City Council this week discussed a 38-page budget report that includes a proposed $80 million in expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year. During a marathon session Tuesday, which began with a three-hour budget workshop and ended with the regularly scheduled Council meeting, the Council announced that total revenue in its proposed budget will come in at about $72 million. The city has $11.4 million in budget reserves.

But even as the General Fund and Water District maintain the city’s policy of maintaining 10-percent cash reserves, the report revealed that the Fire District has “a serious deficit condition,” by reporting a 2-percent cash reserve in the amount of $232,038. Much of the fire district’s decrease in cash reserves comes from end of the two-year SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant, which is up at the end of June.

The proposed changes to the fire department include the elimination nine firefighters: three firefighter/paramedic positions, three engineer positions and three captain positions due to the reduction of one fire engine. The city uses fire personnel from San Bernardino County under the terms of a contract, and city officials say those firefighters will likely be reassigned to other county areas rather than being let go.

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