Councilwoman Emerald calls on Sanders to restore fire engines in - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Councilwoman Emerald calls on Sanders to restore fire engines into use

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - City Councilwoman Marti Emerald on Friday renewed her call for Mayor Jerry Sanders to dip into the city's reserve accounts to put all engines back into use at the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Currently, eight engines are taken out of service each day at various fire stations, which allows the city to save $11.5 million in overtime pay.

Emerald, citing a recent report from fire Chief Javier Mainar, said response times have reached unacceptable levels.

In his report delivered Wednesday, the chief said the response times for a typical house fire has reached 11 minutes in Mira Mesa and Rancho Penasquitos, two minutes above the national standard and five minutes longer than it takes downtown and in North Park.

If the city took $2.6 million from an "appropriated reserve" account, the city could put four engines back to work and restore funding to lifeguard programs, Emerald said.

"Dollars stashed away in reserve accounts serve no one while safety is jeopardized and property is destroyed because of budgetary posturing," Emerald said.

She first floated the idea at Wednesday's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services meeting, but did not find support among fellow council members.

The city's chief financial officer, Mary Lewis, said earlier this week the mayor would not entertain suggestions to restore the funding for this year.

The city has made numerous cuts to balance this year's budget, and faces a shortfall of at least $45 million for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1, according to Lewis.

Appropriated reserves are different from the general reserves and, according to Emerald, account for $2.9 million.

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