The new year means doing more with less, say the two men charged with protecting the safety of Delaware City residents.

The new year means doing more with less, say the two men charged with protecting the safety of Delaware City residents.

Both the police and fire departments will be expected to handle more calls with less money as the population grows, say police chief Russ Martin and fire chief John Donahue.

City council on Dec. 28 is expected to pass the 2010 general fund budget, which will reduce funding of city departments to that of 2008, both men said.

Martin stands to lose two patrol officers and Donahue one firefighter under the proposed budget.

"There are several areas of concern as public safety forces are required to do more with less," Martin said. "I am especially concerned about maintaining the level of service and programs apart from our traditional patrol responses. Several of the well-received crime prevention programs and proactive measures we have initiated in the recent past may be eliminated."

"The fire department is at a critical junction in its history," Donahue said. "For nearly 10 years, consultants have been hired and studies have been conducted - all indicating the need for this department to expand with the growth. We are no closer today in accomplishing these issues than we were when the studies were conducted and in fact, we are further behind."

Martin is also "concerned that a long-term economic malaise may lead to more stress in the home and an increase in domestic violence or general frustration with government."

The time it takes to respond to a call is critical to public safety, Donahue said.

A review of the department this year by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) cited weaknesses such as only one fire station covering the city, a shortage of personnel, the lack of a ladder company and a shortage of engine companies.

With cuts to the budget, none of these weaknesses will be corrected in 2010, he said.

"Our city has expanded," Donahue said.

"We have drive times of nearly 10 minutes to the Glen Ross area and close to this in the northwest quadrants."

Calls are up, averaging more than 13 per day.

An average of six of those calls overlap, requiring coverage by neighboring jurisdictions.

Donahue asked city council to take steps to place a fire-EMS levy on the ballot in 2010. It would fund additional personnel, equipment and fire stations.

The police department won't ask for a levy, Martin said.

If the city cuts any police officers, he said, "Our succession planning and preparation for the future will be significantly impacted. ... We operate with virtually no margin."