Yakima budget: More officers, fewer workers clearing snow

Yakima budget: More officers, fewer workers clearing snow
YAKIMA, Wash. -- It's no secret times are still tough for cities and counties around the state. In Yakima, next year's budget is nearly complete. Action News broke down the figures to see what that means for you.

"Had to push people out to the road just to get them to main road last year, so it was tough," said Yakima man, Bob Adamson.

And it could get tougher. In 2013 Bob will see fewer people clearing snow from the streets he's driven for 36 years. Yakima decided to eliminate a street maintenance specialist. It's the fifth position of its kind to be axed in just three years.

"Even though the streets are important to keep up in the winter, I think we need to look at people's safety first," said Bob.

And Yakima agrees. At the start of the new year, Bob will be protected by three new officers patrolling Yakima's streets. Two new officers will complete a second gang unit, and the third will join the violent crimes task force.

"Gangs shooting gangs, and people getting broken into,yeah I think that's a high priority for us," said Bob.

Bob can also expect improvements to downtown Yakima, the airport and large areas like the old mill site. The city created two new positions to focus on revitalization in key areas. It all comes with a cost, but Bob says it's worth it.

"If it raises the budget, it raises the budget," said Bob. "We need to take care of the important things."

The general budget for Yakima next year is about 1.5 million more than it was this year. The city manager points to higher health plan costs and union contracts.

And while budget talks are nearing the end, winter is just gearing up. Leaving people like Bob hoping the snow back in January doesn't come back for round two.

"I want my streets cleaned just like everyone else, but times are tough and when times are tough, we have to tighten our belts and do the best we can with what we have," said Bob.

Yakima eliminated about a half-dozen other positions that sat vacant this year. But, the city is confident you won't feel the effects.