Medina police and fire chiefs have to cut $40K each

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 May 2013 at 12:00 am

‘Unfortunately it’s going to be painful, very painful.’- Medina Fire Chief Todd Zinkievich

MEDINA – Mayor Andrew Meier and the Village Board put out the directive for the fire and police departments: They each need to cut $40,000 from their budgets for the 2013-14 year. And that’s after board members had already chopped from the spending plans.

“This will be my hardest budget by far,” said Todd Zinkievich, the Medina fire chief since 2003. “Unfortunately it’s going to be painful, very painful.”

Meier said the additional $40,000 in cuts from each department were needed to prevent a tax increase of nearly 10 percent for a fiscal year that starts June 1. With the $80,000 from the two departments, plus $10,000 from the Department of Public Works and $5,000 from the code enforcement officer, Medina was able to pass a budget April 29 that raises taxes 4 percent.

Meier left it to the department heads to identify the cuts. He would like cost-savings pinpointed by the end of the month.

Zinkievich said he doesn’t want to skimp on preventive maintenance and equipment upgrades that are recommended by the National Fire Protection Agency. Medina has been working hard in recent years to maintain aging equipment, trying to put off new replacements, he said. He doesn’t want to pull back on maintenance, fearing a bigger repair or replacement.

“We have our budget tight right now,” he said. “I’ll do my best to not jeopardize the safety of my men.”

Police Chief Jose Avila said his department has reduced staff over the years and is already running lean. But he said he will make the $40,000 in cuts.

“It will certainly make things tougher, but my job is to make it happen,” Avila said.

He is working to identify the cuts. He has about two weeks to make those decisions.

“My job is to serve and protect Medina with what I’m given,” Avila said.

Medina is in a difficult predicament, Meier said, because the village’s tax base has been shrinking, putting more tax pressure on property owners. Meier fears if the tax rate continues to rise, more residents will flee the village, causing assessments to drop even more, putting the village in a vicious cycle.