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Bristol, Va. still facing $100 million debt; looking for ways to save money, generate revenue

The budget debate continues in Bristol, Va. Now money for emergency services in on the line.

Right now, the city is $100 million in debt, and it's at its borrowing limit.

Tuesday's city council meeting was packed with people asking the council not to cut funding for the fire and police departments. Last week, council members said every department should expect cuts.

"At this point, having some of those parameters and knowing what the citizens think, in terms of what they prioritize such as safety and some other things, I think that's very helpful," Mayor Bill Hartley said.

"Our emergency services should not have to pay for what happened at the Falls," resident Debbie Sourbeer said.

No one from the public offered ideas on where else to cut or how to raise more money.

The Bristol, Virginia Professional Firefighters Association said it is working on a proposal to save money.

The fire department has already trimmed its services. It had been responding to emergency medical calls as well as fires. But now, for a 90-day trial period, firefighters will not go on medical calls unless the life saving crew needs the extra help.

The mayor said the council will spend the next six weeks going over each department's budget, line-by-line. It will have to start making decisions on the budget in April.


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