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Petersburg keeps fire stations open amid budget cuts

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Petersburg City Council voted to approved a motion Tuesday night that will keep the city’s four fire stations open along with the Southside Virginia Emergency Crew.

The fire stations and more than a dozen firefighter positions were on the chopping block as the city continues to find ways to free money for their $12 million budget shortfall.

More than 100 current and retired firefighters and EMS medics made up the 450 people packed inside the Petersburg High school auditorium for the city council meeting.

City Council approved the amended budget that was recommended, however they made an adjustment to take out $635,000 that was going to close the fire station to use that in administrative cuts.

It’s unclear exactly how those cuts will be made.

Since the fire stations survived the budget cut, cuts to public schools and pay reductions are expected.

Officials say cuts in spending are expected to bring the biggest savings in short term.

One surprise came when Petersburg Fire Chief T.C. Hairston stepped down from the fire department, announcing his last day would be December 31.

Interim City Manager Dironna Moore Belton said Hairston's resignation free free up money as well.

While public safety services survived the cut, city council voted to increase taxes on multiple things including, personal property, lodging, cigarettes, meals, and the solid waste fee.