Bettendorf discusses budget

The City of Bettendorf’s budget situation is in stark contrast to Davenport’s, which plans on layoffs and tax increases.

Bettendorf could actually drop its tax rate and make hires.

But, does that include more firefighters?

Royce White watched in horror as flames shot through his Bettendorf home back in October.

“It would have gotten me if I’d horsed around,” he said. “It was terrible.”

The fire’s one of 66 that crews responded to last year.

That number is expected to increase as the city’s population rises.

That means more firefighters will be needed to maintain adequate response times.

“We know as we grow we’re going to have to increase that size,” said Decker Ploehn, Bettendorf’s City Administrator. “We talked to the council about that. We’re going to hold off another year.”

Some city leaders want to see more firefighters now.

“My big one is adding the firemen and I want to see the state street location opened up,” said Lisa Brown, Alderman at Large.

Even the city’s new mayor, Bob Gallagher, Jr. expressed concern over fire staffing when he was elected in November.

“I think it’s a fantastic thing for Bettendorf in terms of training and overflow help. I’m gravely concerned our response times are suffering because volunteers are just that.”

Fast-forward to today

“After talking with the chief, his proposal to increase the fire department by three, one in each of the following three years, that’s an aggressive policy given the economic climate and condition of fire pension payments the city would have to make.”

There will be a meeting the public’s invited to attend at City Hall on Wednesday evening.

The new mayor says he plans to hold more community meetings to get feedback later in the month.

A vote on the budget is expected in March.

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