Stevens Point leaders put money for crossing guards back into budget proposal
STEVENS POINT (WAOW)--The city of Stevens Point is facing a $1.5 million dollar shortfall, and city leaders say they are making cuts across the board. Many had worried the crossing guard program would be cut, but city leaders have put $20,000 dollars back into the proposed budget to keep it running through the school year.
"The kids' safety is number one priority. I would put my life down for any of these kids," said crossing guard Mari Boris at an open budget meeting held Tuesday night at the Lincoln Center. She's been helping children cross the street for 15 years.
She's just one person who defended the program in front of city leaders. If passed, the proposed budget would fund the program through the end of the school year, but officials said after that, money might need to be found somewhere else.
"People are thinking that the city is in favor of eliminating the school crossing guard program which it is not. It's just simply that the funding can no longer be continued through the tax levy," said Police and Fire Commission President David Schleihs.
He said police and fire have already cut hundreds of thousands from their budget, and if they keep funding the crossing guards, they could have to cut staff. "We might have to cut one or two police officer positions."
City leaders say the program costs more than $40,000 dollars to run. Mayor Andrew Halverson said child safety is a top priority, but cuts need to be made somewhere. "Completely eliminating the crossing guards in my opinion was going too far," he said.
The budget proposal can still be modified by the Finance Committee up until it is voted on and approved by the Common Council. Halverson said that will most likely happen in early November.
Council President Randy Stroik said most likely, the council will vote to keep the crossing guards through the end of this school year.
There will be two more public budget hearings next week, and another Finance Committee meeting before the council takes on the budget proposal.