Volunteers are cheaper.
The 44-person volunteer fire department costs the city about $300,000 a year. That would support only about four full-time firefighters.
Councilwoman Karen Foreman also noted the public safety fuel and repairs budget is rising by about 40 percent. Staff said they were taking a look at reducing that increase.
The two-hour work session was as much an informal briefing on the city budget as it was hard-nosed analysis of dollars and cents.
The council learned the drop boxes for utility bills at area grocery stores will soon disappear. Roughly 3,000 people use the drop boxes. The box at the Intergovernmental Center will remain.
City Council President Mike Laven also said he’d heard constituents complaining about being towed from the new taxi cab zone on Second Street. Hentges said staff would look into signs or cones to mark the zone on busy nights.
The council will have three more budget hearings this fall; the next is about public works and community development, on Nov. 19.