Covington fire faces daily staff cuts - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Covington fire faces daily staff cuts

Covington firefighters face daily staffing cuts. (FOX19 NOW/Jessica Brown) Covington firefighters face daily staffing cuts. (FOX19 NOW/Jessica Brown)
COVINGTON, KENTUCKY (FOX19) - The Covington Firefighter Department could see staffing cuts.

Fire officials say the Covington city manager wants to reduce daily staffing to save money in the upcoming city budget.

City leaders in Covington are working with a general fund budget for the next fiscal year right around $47 million, and expect to have expenses total very close to that.

"We do have to have a structurally balanced budget just like every household,” said Larry Klein, Covington City Manager.

The proposed budget for the next fiscal year calls for some staffing changes. Some non-union city workers may be taken from full-time to part-time, and some of those positions may be cut.

“In the short term, we have to tighten our general fund budget. I think, long-term, the things we are doing – investing in the community and infrastructure – they're going to grow property tax base, grow jobs. That's what's going to bring revenue to the general fund,” Klein told FOX19 NOW.

City leaders say no police officer or firefighter will be cut, but some of their positions could be shifted around. For firefighters, some of their open positions may not be filled.

"We currently staff 27 firefighters a day in the city of Covington across five firehouses. The budget, as it's projected, would eliminate one of those spots,” said Jimmy Adams, Local 38 Union President. “It's going to mean less firefighters on the streets.

City leaders say that one spot won't be filled, likely through attrition.

"One full-time position translates into four full-time positions because they work shifts. Essentially, we're just going to hire four less. We're going to hire six instead of 10,” Klein said.

Concerns are mounting that this move could mean an impact response times, and leave the city to rely on surrounding fire departments to help with coverage.

"If they don't have more firemen, our house is going to burn down. Then what? Who is going to take care of the people and their families,” said concerned resident Betty Orta.

The city staffs five firehouses, and the department is already down a company after budget moves in 2011, according to Adams.

"Any day that we are at 26, there will be one less fire company operating in the city,” Adams told FOX19 NOW.

In each of the last five years, budget cuts have been made in the city of Covington.

"When the city has had to make reductions, it has not laid off police or firefighters in the last five years,” Klein said. “The cuts, while they may seem to focus on police and fire, actually they're all across several departments. No police officers or firefighters will be laid off as a result of this plan.”

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