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      Columbia Fire & Police Dept. request more than $20 million

      Columbia public safety officials presented their 2010-2011 Fiscal Budgets to Columbia's City Council Wednesday afternoon. / Sara Jane Harris

      COLUMBIA (WACH) - Columbia public safety officials presented their 2010-2011 Fiscal Budgets to Columbia's City Council Wednesday afternoon.

      Fire Department Interim Chief Aubrey Jenkins requested more than $20 million that he said the department needs to make it through the next fiscal year.

      Jenkins said they have looked at hiring more inspectors so they will have to cut back in other areas.

      "Everything we are cutting we are looking at an executive position, cutting a computer operation position, and other line items that we felt we could cut to make our budget work," Jenkins.

      Columbia Police Chief Tandy Carter asked for a little bit more than Jenkins.

      Carter said he needs more than $28 million to pay for salaries, vehicle repairs and overtime requests.

      "This year we've got some more overtime in there which is nice, we're able to create a bigger foot print of police officers in neighborhoods," said Carter.

      Columbia TMs newly elected mayor Steve Benjamin ran a platform that emphasized public safety and fiscal responsibility.Benjamin said when he takes office in July he will restore $9 million to the police and fire department budgets.

      "I believe that the city's foremost responsibility to keep its citizens safe. We cannot keep our citizens safe if we keep cutting police department and keep cutting the fire department," said Jenkins.

      Both Carter and Jenkins said they aren't sure if they'll ever see that money.

      "That's not for me to decide that's a council decision I TMm just a department head I have to work with what they have so I try not to get involved with political decisions," said Jenkins.

      "Whatever money comes from the city that will be something that council work out, if we get any more money we will certainly be glad to have it," said Carter.

      City officials said it's still very early in the process and the budget won't be finalized until June.

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