Continued tight town finances have forced Paradise Town Council members to layoff a police officer.
A reluctant Town Council Wednesday voted unanimously for the layoff in effort to balance the town's budget. The move will save the town about $75,000 on an annual fiscal year basis. Immediate savings for the current fiscal year will be about $25,000, according to interim Town Manager Chuck Rough.
"This is an action of last resort," Rough said.
The four council members present at Wednesday's special meeting voiced plenty of discomfort about the lay off. But they say they had little choice since, they claimed, the Paradise Police Officers Assocation did not go far enough in giving contract concessions.
"At this point it looks like this is the only option we have," said Council member Alan White. "You can't spend money you don't have."
But PPOA President Robert Wright said police officers have already agreed to no pay increase, no holiday pay, a new cap in medical benefits and no uniform allowance for the next eight months.
"If you go back, police officers here have not had a raise since 2007," Wright said. "We could have avoided this layoff."
Wright said before the layoff, the town has 18 sworn officers for 27,000 people. Thirty years ago, the town had 27 officers to serve a much smaller population.
An emotional Council member Woody Culleton said town finances have never been worse and he says he doesn't see a lot of promise down the road.
"There's a God-darn good chance we could go broke in a few years," he said.