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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chief Releases Statement On Budget Cuts

The Chief of Police releasing only a brief statement regarding the 1 million dollars in cuts for the police force in the new city budget.

Bill Reid says the force is committed to upholding the safety of citizens and its officers but decisive leadership will be required to reduce any impacts to public safety.

He adds the police force will adapt its current operations to meet the realities of the new budget.

The Police Commission will be meeting Tuesday and will likely have more to say about the cuts. Mayor Ivan Court and Common Councillor Peter McGuire are members of the Commission.

There are fears initiatives to reduce crime in the city will be a casualty of the budget. The Police Association has a no layoff clause in its contract agreement.

North End And West Side Most Affected By Cuts To Fire Budget

Saint John Fire Chief Kevin Clifford says the 750-thousand dollars worth of cuts in the new city budget will have a definite impact on fire protection.

Clifford tells CHSJ News the North End and the West Side could see increase in response times as one of the trucks from the north station will now be moved to the fire station on Courtney Avenue. He says the response time could go up by as much as 4 minutes.

16 positions will be lost due to the budget cuts and he says it will be difficult to handle multiple incidents at the same time.

Chase & Morgan To Visit China

Two New Brunswick country stars are taking their act on the road all the way to China next month.

Kevin Chase of the Kingston Peninsula and Melanie Morgan of Cap Pele are doing a 5 stop tour finishing in Shanghai.

Chase tells CHSJ News he's excited and nervous at the same time about the trip.

He says they leave on March 5th and play 5 major Chinese cities back to back which will be busy but, Chase says it will be exciting to play for the Chinese.

Chase wouldn't say his music is exactly popular in China but that's the point to create awareness about his brand of Canadian country in that part of the world.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation Reacts To Rising Pension Plan Deficit

The deficit with the city's pension plan could get even worse before it gets better.

That warning from Kevin Lacey, the Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, who tells CHSJ News a rise of more than 60 million dollars in a year to 190 million dollars is a real mind blower for a city the size of Saint John.

He says it should raise questions about how it got so high and why such a huge increase in just one year.

Lacey adds the city will have to take another look at eligibility and payouts. He warns depending on the province to bail the city out is an iffy proposition, at best, considering the sad financial state of its pension plan.

$750 Baby Greek Tortoise Is Still Missing

"Herman" the baby tortoise is still on the loose!
Three people facing charges after a $750 tortoise was stolen from an East Saint John pet store.

Sgt. Glen Hayward of the City police tells CHSJ News three men ages 21, 22, and 23 were charged with theft and released. One of them also faces a charge for posessing marijuana.

Pets Unlimited Manager Joe Mullet says it's the second time the baby Greek tortoise has been stolen.
He tells us a former employee took "Herman" before Christmas and last night someone broke the lock on his cage taking him a second time.

Mullet says the store's staff is upset adding everyone is pretty attached to "Herman".

Self Serve Gas Rises

It will cost you more to fill up with self serve regular after the weekly setting. 

It has increased by 2 cents a litre and is selling for $1.27.8 in the city. 

There is no change in the price of diesel. It's still at $1.37.3 a litre. 

Heating oil is virtually unchanged at $1.19.5 a litre with propane declining slightly to $1.06.8.

Police Investigate North End Fire And Stolen Tortoise

Arson is thought to be the cause of a small fire early this morning at an apartment building owned by non-profit housing at 200 Main Street North. The call came in shortly after 2:30 and City Police tell us the fire started in a hallway. 6 or 7 people who live in the building have been forced out of their apartments into other accomodation.

City Police are also looking for a stolen tortoise which is worth something like 700 dollars. It was taken from the Pets Unlimited store on the east side. 3 people were arrested nearby but later released. The tortoise, meantime, is still among the missing.

Rothesay Regional Police telling us a man suffered a broken arm when he was struck by a passing highway plow on the Gondola Point Arterial yesterday afternoon. The man was walking along the side of the highway against the flow of traffic which is what you're supposed to do when he was hit by the plow's blade.

Mayor Vehemently Against New Budget

Mayor Ivan Court and Councillor Patty Higgins the only ones voting against the Plan B budget. 

Court wanted council to stand together and believe the pension reforms were coming.

He says he cannot vote for a budget that brings down the quality of life so drastically for citizens.

He adds the passing of the plan B budget will affect the trust between city hall and the people.

Council Passes "Plan B" Budget Containing Cuts Across The Board

After much publicized grappling with the city budget, the issue has finally been put to bed.

Common Council has approved the 2012 budget as well as passing the tax rate at $1.785.

Council has approved the Plan B budget, which contains millions in cuts to fire, police, community grants, and city services.  This was done in case pension reforms are not approved by the province.

City Manager Pat Woods says while he originally supported the first budget, which assumed pension reforms, he says he can't do so now because the city would have needed to find an extra 13.2 million dollars if pension reforms were not achieved.
Woods revealed last night that over the course of the year, the pension deficit has now grown by 64 million dollars to a total of 190 million dollars.