“The police department didn’t give a damn thing.” Those were the comments of Commissioner Al Brannen during the Wildwood Commission meeting on Wednesday night. Besides a budget being passed, the night focused on the division between the commissioners and the unions over a layoff plan that is being implemented by the city.
The commission praised many of the cost saving moves made by the Wildwood Fire Department, yet five layoffs still will take place in that department. Deputy Fire Chief Daniel Speigel offered to take a demotion in title and pay in order to help keep his fellow firefighters.
Many in the audience believe the public safety cuts will hurt tourism. Business owners like Wally Lerro said they have received calls from potential guests asking if it was safe in Wildwood. There would be under 20 police officers under the layoff plan that is being implemented by the city.
The police union leaders said they had made progress while negotiating with Brannen, but since Mayor Gary DeMarzo took over, those talks have stopped. DeMarzo said a plan has been presented and the union can respond to it. The Commissioners said the union leaders have opted for layoffs instead of concessions.
It is a classic he said/she said in this case. Either way, Wildwood’s public safety ranks will be severely diminished in the coming months. Extra class two’s are scheduled to be brought on in the summer, but there are questions over if there will be enough staff to deal with the more serious calls.