Sanford Mayor Tom Cote, right, speaks during a City Council meeting night, when the council voted to reinstate a fire marshal position it had previously cut from the budget. Credit: CBS 13

The Sanford City Council voted to reinstate the fire marshal position Tuesday night.

Sanford’s fire chief was hoping councilors would reconsider their decision to eliminate positions within the department.

Three fire department positions were defunded in an effort to make budget cuts to the fiscal year 2020 budget.

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In a previous meeting, the City Council voted to not fund two firefighting positions and also get rid of the fire marshal position.

The city said that would have saved $250,000.

Fire Chief Steve Benotti says the department is currently short staffed and in need of an additional 12 firefighters.

He says the council’s decision to make the cuts came as a big shock.

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“It was disheartening,” Benotti said. “I mean the bigger message I think is not only the loss of the positions, but the breaking of the trust and the relationships with city officials that we worked hard with up to that point.”

The fire chief says many people approached councilors over the past few days to urge them to call a special meeting Tuesday night.

Newly reinstated fire marshal, Patrick Cotter, said he is happy with the decision of the meeting.

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“I’m very pleased with the outcome with the city council decided to reinstate my position,” he said. “I think fire prevention is very important in this city, especially moving forward.”

As the fire marshal, Cotter is in charge of enforcing building codes and orchestrating command staff at fire scenes.

Additionally, he spearheads the juvenile safety program for the city and often teaches fire safety at the schools.

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The council chambers were packed as Sanford Mayor Tom Cote said the decision last week was not meant to be personal, but that the city is in dire need to cut back on spending or face major tax increases.

“If anybody has a thought of me actively putting the community at risk, that was not my intent,” Cote said. “Perhaps not a realistic intent but not an intent to put the community in harm’s way.”

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Council rejected funding two firefighter positions this evening but everyone agreed keeping Cotter on the job was the priority.

At the meeting, the city council voted 5-2 to reinstate the fire marshal position.

City councilors is unsure where cuts will be made for the fiscal year 2020 budget.