La Feria Budget Crisis Eliminates Positions
LA FERIA – The city of La Feria had to cut 25 to 30 percent of department expenses across the board due to its budget crisis.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS first reported on La Feria's budget issues back in March. In September, an audit found the city exceeded its projected budget for the last three years and certain reserve funds were depleted.
La Feria City Manager Jaime Sandoval said some of the budget cuts include utility funds, industrial development and economic development. He said other issues are the loss of code enforcement and animal control.
A total of three positions, two janitorial positions and an assistant court coordinator position, will be downgraded to part-time jobs.
Sandoval said the animal control and code enforcement position will be eliminated.
Barbara Barbro has lived in a mobile home park in La Feria since 1989. She said unexpected visitors are coming from an abandoned house next door.
She decided to take matters into her own hands and place traps.
"Probably about 17 possums, four skunks and one raccoon and several cats this year., so it's an ongoing problem,” said Barbro when we asked how many animals she has caught.
"It takes a lot of time for animal control person to go around because almost every day there's a least one animal here in the park that someone traps,” said the homeowner.
Barbro found out the animal control coordinator, who is also in charge of code enforcement, is going to be out of the job. She said it's a service she knows is needed.
"It's a concern. We will not have that done,” said Barbro.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS emailed the La Feria city manager a list of questions and asked about the layoffs.
"Unfortunately, again the city ended the FY 2016-2017 general fund budget with a projected negative balance of approximately $300,000.000. As a result of the previous deficits, the city commission needed to make some difficult decisions in order to balance the FY 2017-2018 budget,” writes Sandoval.
Sandoval said the police department will take over for animal control. He said officers are expected to be trained and keep the position for three to four months. Then pass off those duties to the fire department.
Barbro doesn't agree with this decision.
"I would have to see it to believe it because I don't think the police will have the time take care of it,” said Barbro.
Barbro hopes the city can manage the departments and serve the community efficiently.
Sandoval assures the services will not change. He explained during this time, the city will not be making adjustments in salaries and officers should start the position in the next coming weeks.