Friday, November 9, 2012
he Oswego Fire Department is facing cuts under the city’s latest budget proposal.
Resident Nathan Emmons has never called firefighters to his house, but he wants them close just in case.
you start thinking about people's safety and security and feeling safe,
I think that is one of the last areas you've got to look at in terms of
cutting,” Emmons told NewsChannel 9.
Facing a major loss in
revenues from the steam station's reassessment, councilors want a fire
budget close to last year's bottom line, roughly $4.8-million. Mayor Tom
Gillen says that's $700,000 less than the chief proposed. Closing the
gap involves shutting down the Westside fire station, taking two older
ambulances out of service as contracts with nearby towns expire, and
reducing the number of firefighters on duty from 12 to 10.
personnel is the highest expense we have right now and it’s the one that
we have to adjust and take a good hard look at,” Gillen explained.
Tom Gillen said no firefighters would lose their jobs and the cuts
would be absorbed through attrition. Fire chief Jeff McCrobie says
demand for their services has gone up steadily over the years, but their
manpower has not. The department responded to roughly 5,200 calls last
year, most of them for EMS services within the city.
understand these are difficult times in the city. My job is to ensure
public safety. The fire service cannot be the same if we go to 10 people
on duty. It is not safe," Chief McCrobie said.
firefighters have had agreements with the towns of Minetto, Scriba and
Oswego to provide ambulance services. Those agreements expire at the end
of 2012. Mayor Gillen believes fewer ambulances will be needed once the
fire department can focus solely on calls within city of Oswego. He
also said the ambulances being removed from service are older and have
required costly maintenance. McCrobie reports that EMS service to the
towns accounted for about 800 of his staff's calls last year.
City of Oswego taxpayer Paul Scullin thinks the city has too many people on the payroll.
a good idea to reduce the police force, the fire people, the ambulances
and the municipal employees” because he says “we can’t afford them.”
Taxpayers could end the debate at a public hearing later this month.