Fight Over Fire Budget Heats Up


Omaha’s proposed budget is going to the printer Thursday morning and that’s focused new attention on the fight over the fire department budget. Mayor Jean Stothert told Channel Six she’s settled on a number, but the Fire Union says the issue is far from over.

For just over a month newly elected Mayor Stothert has been working on the 2014 budget. A budget she says is now complete and has her mark on it. “I asked every single city department to reduce their spending.”

She says every department has hit their target, except the fire department. They asked for a budget of 96.6 million for 2014, that's a 14.4 million increase from 2013. Stothert told them their target was 83.1 million. Then she compromised at 90.6 million.

“We feel like we are being more than generous. Taking into consideration all the other departments are within their targeted range, I am not going to raise property taxes to fund the Omaha fire department,” said Stothert.

With the help of the finance department they came up with three options to help the fire department get to that number. These are the three options:

Option One

27 Layoffs
4 Rigs removed
3 Engines or Trucks removed
1 Medic Unit removed
8 Demotions
Reduce Detached Duty to 4
Reduce Callback by half
Remove 3 Assistant Fire Chiefs
Remove 1 Assistant Fire Marshal

Option Two

16 Layoffs
2 Rigs removed
1 Truck or Engine removed
1 Medic Unit removed
8 Demotions
Reduce Detached Duty to 4
Reduce Callback by half
Remove 3 Assistant Fire Chief
Remove 1 Assistant Fire Marshal

Option Three

16 Layoffs
1 Medic Unit or Rig Removed
8 Demotions
Reduction in Paramedic Class from 24 to 12
Reduce Callback by half
Remove 3 Assistant Fire Chiefs
Remove 1 Assistant Fire Marshal

Fire Union President Steve LeClair said none of the options work within the contract that has already been signed. “I believe that they are violations of the contract. Should any one of those options come to fruition we would aggressively defend that contract, aggressively defend our position. We would be in court."

Stothert claims she can legally enact options two and three, but would need union approval for the third. She said she is still open to listening to ideas on how to reach that number. LeClair said all those options could potentially violate public safety and firefighter safety.


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