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Police, Firefighters Respond to Mayor's Proposed Budget

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore budget 2012. Emergency leaders met with the mayor to hash out who's getting what.  

As Weijia Jiang explains, some say they need more money, and without it, taxpayers will suffer.  

Following the historically painful budget battle of last year between Baltimore and its police and fire departments, the city's top cop calls this year's number crunching a stark contrast.

"This has been a much, much more efficient and effective process as we moved along," said Baltimore City Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld.

The mayor's proposed plan for police includes a 2 percent pay increase to offset furlough costs, and money to fill 300 vacant and anticipated job openings.

"We're hiring, we need applicants," said Bealefeld. "We're looking for good quality recruits throughout the region."

While the police department seems relatively satisfied, the city's fire union has harsh words for the mayor, calling her budget plan lacking in "reality, substance and value for taxpayers."

"The budget document that was given out includes the word 'improved' throughout. We don't understand how they're going to improve public safety with the exact same things they're doing now," said Bob Sledgeski, IAFF Local 734 President. 

Despite a $2.5 million increase in their budget, firefighters say they need more money to raise response times currently 5 percent below the national standard, and to stop rotating company closures.

But the mayor stands firm that her priority is public safety, pointing to a reduction in the number of closures.

"I have faith and they have faith that we are going to get to better times, to dwindle down," said Rawlings-Blake. "It started at six rotating closures, we're down to three, so I'm encouraged."

The mayor says there will be no police or fire layoffs, but whether there will be cuts in the budgets will depend on how much state funding the city receives.

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