Reporting Ron Jones
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Frustrated Sacramento firefighters marched to City Hall on Tuesday to protest proposed layoffs. But they’re not just challenging the cuts, they’re also offering a solution.
The Sacramento Area Firefighters union prepared a plan to raise revenue instead of making cuts.
Rallying the troops, union president Brian Rice led nearly 150 Sacramento firefighters to City Hall.
“We cannot fracture. We cannot sell out our own,” he told the members. “We’re going to work this problem out. The fire department will work it out for firefighters.”
There are 64 positions are on the chopping block, representing nearly 10 percent of the department. It totals $4.2 million of cuts and the result would be major – reducing four-man rescue crews to three.
“Why is it essential for the Giants to have nine players instead of six?” firefighter and union spokesman Todd Filbrun asked. “Will they still catch some ground balls? Will they still catch some fly balls? Sure. But are they going to win ball games? No.”
But the reduction wouldn’t be unprecedented. Neighboring cities such as Elk Grove and West Sacramento use three-man fire crews.
“They do have about twice as many stations per capita per square mile than we have,” Filbrun said.
Union representatives on Tuesday told council members that they have made concessions in the past and now are offering an alternative. By adding three ambulances, the union says they could raise $3 million in revenue.
The city is also proposing to cut 119 positions in the police department, including 26 officers, for a savings of $6.1 million.
City Manager John Shirey has said the cuts can be avoided if the departments agree to pay all their employee contributions to their pensions.
Most of the comments at the council meeting were against cuts to public safety.
“Please continue to provide an essential service that I pay for,” one resident said.
Tuesday’s budget discussions were preliminary. The council hopes to adopt a final budget on June 12.