Gulfport fire chief relieved jobs will be saved

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Jobs are safe and Gulfport residents are now safer. Fire station number four in the Broadmoor area will now be able to keep its doors open. This comes after the Gulfport City Council passed the final $54 million budget for the next fiscal year.

"If jobs are cut you are looking at more of a man load," Gulfport resident Michael Shank said.

Six members of the Gulfport City Council agreed and were not happy with about ten percent of Mayor George Schloegel's recommendations for the next fiscal year budget. That including cutting jobs from firefighters and police to code enforcement positions. Council Vice President Rusty Walker said after looking at all the possibilities, the council made the best decision for the city.

"We think that in Gulfport we have found a way to save all the positions," Walker said. "We think we have found a way to take future cuts through attrition, so we are not laying anyone off and will have no cuts in our public service."

Not only were firefighter jobs saved, some are expected to be added. It also means fire station number four that sits off East Railroad Street will now stay in service.

Fire Chief Mike Beyerstedt said, "We were tickled to death that we were not going to lose some of our most youngest, best and brightest employees. But, I had really had no expectations that station number four would be kept alive."

Although Chief Beyerstedt said he doesn't define his team's success or failure through the number of fire stations, by keeping the doors open, it could save a life.

"Station four is an old fire station that the people in the neighborhood have come to rely on it," said Beyerstedt.

Shank added, "I think they did a good job by not eliminating them. Personally my opinion, they did a good job."

The new budget takes effect in October. City employees won't get a pay raise next year. However, because health insurance claims are down, Councilman Ricky Dombrowski said employees will get rebate checks around Christmas.

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