Police, fire unions unhappy about furloughs - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Police, fire unions unhappy about furloughs

By Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati council's been back and forth over a $20 million budget hole.

It's a harsh reality for the ones making the decisions, and the ones experiencing the layoffs, furloughs and department cuts.

But the brunt of the city's cutbacks may be felt most by the people keeping us all safe.

The city can't impose furloughs on the police and fire unions, but city leaders have said on the record that it's either unpaid days off or job cuts.

"We have a lot of cuts on the table already and no one else is experiencing those cuts," said Marc Monahan, president of the Cincinnati Firefighters Union.

Cincinnati's police and fire department unions have said at this point they will not accept city council's plans for unpaid days off.

"We're open to discussion, but I don't know how we're going to come up with $2.2 or $2.4 million, especially when other departments are not facing cuts or furloughs," said Monahan.

Monahan says his membership has already paired back their operations.

"So far it appears the fire department is being hit with the bulk of the cuts," he said. "At Monday's finance committee meeting, we were told the fire department is going to be abolishing 16 of our support staff positions."

That's part of $1.2 million taken away from the department's juvenile fire setters program, recruitment efforts, overtime and vacant positions that have been eliminated.

"Council has made it very clear. We're not talking about street strength. What we're talking about a combined budget of $176 million for police and fire. We can find five percent in administrative overhead," said councilwoman Roxanne Qualls.

Firefighters disagree, especially when talking about six day furloughs for the people who respond to emergencies in the city.

Local 48 represents 847 fire personnel in Cincinnati.

"If we get sent home, we stay home and there is a vacancy on a fire truck they have to fill that with overtime so it will cost them 50 percent more due to the time and a half overtime," said Monahan.

In the police department, changes include not buying new uniforms and also requiring officers to turn off their cars for one hour every shift and walk to save money on gas.

City officials say furloughs could save Cincinnati more than $4.2 million. Cincinnati city council will officially vote on Wednesday on their ideal package of budget cuts.

Also in the plan is for all city workers to have a six-day furlough, and for trash collection to be reduced to twice a month.

(Copyright 2009 WXIX-TV and Raycom Media. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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