City Manager: Raise Garbage Fees Or Face Massive Cuts
Budget Shortfall Forcing City Council To Make Tough Decision
CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati City Council members have a dilemma -- charge homeowners hundreds of dollars per year for garbage collection or cut a number of police and firefighters.
A city councilmember told News 5 that it would cost a family about $207 per year and a business $238 per year for the service.
If the council doesn’t pass the hike, the city manager said there will have to be massive cuts across the board.
Those cuts would include:
Laying off this years recruit class for the police and fire departments. Eliminating new recruit classes for next year. Cutting police over time for walking patrols. Closing the Mt. Auburn recreation center. Cut maintenance for city parks. Delay the first phase of the city’s climate action plan.
Cincinnati is one of the only cities that doesn't collect for garbage pickup.
The city manager said it can't afford to do any more.
Councilman Chris Monzel said that he wants to defeat the garbage tax and that he believes the city doesn’t have to make the cuts.
Monzel proposes that the city abandons ideas like the rail car plan and “cut the fat” out of departments like the city manager’s office.
POSTED: 11:10 pm EST November 18, 2008 UPDATED: 11:18 pm EST November 18, 2008 wlwt.com
Last Edit: Jun 18, 2009 1:57:25 GMT -5 by Box_2565
Among the items listed that will gravely effect the Fire Department are:
Discontinue the addition of two additional Ambulances Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances in the 2009 Approved Budget. The department has so far added 2 Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances with the hopes of converting them to ALS ambulances once the Paramedic count in the department reaches 300. This reduction would eliminate services provided by these newly added ambulances. (From Plan A)
Eliminate 9 Companies and 105 Firefighter Positions - Nine fire companies and 105 Firefighter positions would be eliminated, which will negatively impact the department's performance. The net reduction identified is personnel savings stemming from the layoff of 105 Firefighter positions and the related non-personnel savings net of lump sum payments, non-departmental unemployment expenses, and non-departmental employee benefits savings. (From Plan B)
Discontinue In-House Paramedic Training Program - This reduction would discontinue the Fire Department's In-House Paramedic Training Program, for which the department received additional resources in the 2009 Approved Budget. The paramedic training program was seen as necessary for enough Paramedics to be on hand to run the additional ALS ambulance units added to the department in the 2009 Approved Budget. (From Plan B)
These items are listed in the report as being "Temporary" but they still paint a rather grim picture for the future of the department. Closing 9 companies would create some large holes in terms of coverage.
Additional information regarding these budget items would be appreciated.
A buddy of mine who is a Cincinnati Police Officer was told today by his district captain to prepare to be laid off as of September 1 pending a miracle. CPD will lay off 100 police officers if the budget for 2009 is not solved. How many CFD members could be at risk?
Local 48 was informed today that the Fire Department will be browning out 4 Fire Companies starting August 9, 2009. A company is a fire truck staffed with 4 fire fighters. The companies that we are told are being browned out in priority order depending on daily staffing are;
Ladder 18- This is one of 12 ladder companies in the city. Ladder 18 is housed on Willmer Ave. at Lunken Airport. The closing of this company will reduce the search and rescue capability of the fire department by 1/12. This company currently responds on one alarm fires to California, Mt. Washington, Hyde Park, the East End and Mt. Lookout. Heavy Rescue Squad 9 will be moved to fill in for Ladder 18 and will respond when they are available.
Ladder 29- This is one of 12 ladder companies in the city. Ladder 29 is housed in the West End at Liberty and Linn. The closing of this company will reduce the search and rescue capability of the fire department by 1/12. This company currently responds on one alarm fires to the West End, Over the Rhine, Downtown, Queensgate, Clifton Heights, and Lower Price Hill. Ladder 19- This is one of 12 ladder companies in the city. Ladder 19 is housed on short Vine in Coryville. The closing of this company will reduce the search and rescue capability of the fire department by 1/12. This company currently responds on one alarm fires to the Coryville, Clifton, University Heights, Northside, Avondale, and Walnut Hills. Ladder 21- This is one of 12 ladder companies in the city. Ladder 21 is housed on State Avenue in Fairmount. The closing of this company will reduce the search and rescue capability of the fire department by 1/12. This company currently responds on one alarm fires to Fairmount, Price Hill, University Heights, Westwood and Northside.
These companies will be browned out for the remainder of 2009. They will be reevaluated for 2010 depending on the budget situation. On some days, all 4 companies will be closed. This will cause a severe increase in response time and a reduction in safety for the residents and fire fighters. Today, just hours after these brownouts were announced, Ladder 19 and Ladder 29 rescued 3 occupants from the 3rd floor of their Riddle Rd. home. Without their quick response time, the outcome would be much different as we found out the last time companies were browned out in 2004.
City Council has been told they have no authority to stop this. Only the Manager and his boss, the Mayor, can do that.
Cincinnati.Com » Government Last Updated: 9:29 pm | Monday, December 7, 2009
Fire chief: Budget cuts too deep
By Jessica Brown email@example.com
Cincinnati Fire Chief Robert Wright said Monday that cutting more than $5 million from his $73 million budget - as the city manager has asked him to do - will force him to lay off 47 firefighters.
Those layoffs will mean longer response times and may lead to brownouts in certain neighborhoods.
"We will not perform at industry standards when it comes to emergency response," Wright said. "The reduction of 47 firefighters takes our department back to 1998 levels. We were understaffed in 1998."
City Council's finance committee spent more than four hours Monday hearing from department heads about how proposed 2010 budget cuts would affect city services. Department heads also fielded questions from council members and took comments from the public. The city must close a $51.5 million budget deficit next year. The proposed $332 million operating budget includes a $10 trash collection fee and more than 300 layoffs, including 112 police officers and the 47 firefighters.
Monday's 1 p.m. finance committee meeting, at which all nine council members were present, started late and moved slowly. After about four hours, Finance Committee Chairwoman Laketa Cole rescheduled the last half of the meeting - which will include the police and parks departments - to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. She noted the administration had scheduled the marathon meeting without consulting her and some council members had family obligations. Discussions about the proposed trash fee may also continue at Tuesday's meeting.
Of the departments discussed Monday, the fire department's proposed cuts would have the most noticeable impact for residents.
On any given day, Wright said, the fire department could have 20 percent fewer fire companies on the street. Hardest hit: the West End, Fairmount, Corryville, the East End/Lunken Airport, Oakley, Northside and Avondale. Those neighborhoods may be subject to periodic brownouts if sickness or other issues cause too many firefighters to be off on a single day.
"What are the consequences?" asked Councilman Jeff Berding. "More deaths? Have you determined the real life-and-death consequences of a $5.7 million savings?"
Wright didn't know. He said personnel accounts for 90 percent of fire department costs, leaving him without much else to cut.
"We don't' possess the capacity to predict whether they'll be one, or two or three deaths as a consequence of our actions," he said. "Absolutely it could happen. But I can't tell you in absolute numerical terms that that will happen."
Cole wants the committee to be ready to present a revised 2010 budget Dec. 15. She hopes council will pass the budget Dec. 16 or Dec. 23. Council must pass a budget by Dec. 31.
Firefighters say brownouts setting up a dangerous situation
Union President: It's Like Canceling Your Homeowner's Insurance
POSTED: 12:59 pm EDT July 19, 2010
CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati firefighters are sounding the alarm about what they call "brownout roulette."
Due to budget considerations, the Cincinnati Fire Department is browning out two to four fire companies every day.
Firefighters say that puts lives and property at higher risk.
On Monday, there were two fire companies closed, one fewer than Sunday. Last Monday, there were four shut down.
On Saturday, the city's only operating heavy rescue crew was delayed getting to a crash with entrapment on Reading Road because it was already at a stuck elevator call. The other heavy rescue unit was browned out for the day.
"It's like canceling your homeowner's insurance," Local 48 President Marc Monahan said. "We've managed to skate by, but eventually it's going to catch up with us.
As a result of retirements, there will be 25 fewer firefighters by next January. Monahan tells News 5 that means another two fire companies will be shut down on a rotating basis.
The brownout issue is one of several key matters that are being discussed in contract talks that are underway between Cincinnati's 822 firefighters and the city administration.
A mediator has now joined the negotiations.
Former Cincinnati lawmaker Greg Harris said the fire union is "playing the politics of fear-mongering" by using brownouts to keep budgets in check.
Harris maintains the fire budget is about $20 million beyond what it should be anyway. He said it's a colossal waste of money to send a fire truck and an ambulance to virtually every 911 medical call.
According to Harris, nearly 90 percent of all fire department runs are non-fire related and medical in nature. The city currently has 12 ambulances, not including private companies.
"Look, if we start to reconstitute our fire department with far more ambulances and far more paramedics, it would dramatically improve rescue response," Harris told News 5's John London. "But, it would result in far fewer fire department personnel. That's what it's about, it's about their jobs."
"They are practicing a failed business model, a business model that's 30 years old. They are propping up engines, fire houses that were built a hundred years ago. We need to modernize how we do rescue response in this city," Harris said.
Monahan countered by saying the department is providing a vital service to citizens with it's dual role of firefighting and medical runs.
He said private companies generally don't want the first responder runs because there's no financial payoff.
"They want the transport runs because that's where the EMS billing is," Monahan said.
He's arguing for keeping the same amount of companies and no brownouts. Otherwise, Monahan believes the city is going to have response time and quality service problems.
Tuesday, August 31,2010 CityBeat.com Brownouts Used at Fire Stations
Despite spiraling costs in Cincinnati Fire Department, city ignores consultant's report
By Dave Malaska
These are turbulent times for the Cincinnati Fire Department (CFD). With the city of Cincinnati massively over budget, officials are eyeing cuts to the department's funding just as spiraling overtime costs have led to temporary closures of some fire stations and the department is facing a constant deluge of critics, including local firefighters union leaders.
It's also become clear that, without major changes in either funding or its mission, the department's future looks even more grim.
"Right now, the mayor and City Council are looking at a $50 million hole in next year's budget, and that's going to mean some changes for the department," says CFD Chief Robert Wright (pictured), who is due to retire in January. "The 2011 budget, that's a problem for next year. We've had to do some things just to make sure we can make it to the end of this year. That's the problem we face now."
With an operating budget of just over $68 million, the department cut $5.4 million in expenses in 2010. In order to prevent layoffs, Wright says, the department had to make a series of concessions to keep its current staffing levels, including a cut to funding of overtime costs, which totaled more than $2.5 million in 2009.
Also, the city dipped into "one-time resources" to help prevent major cuts for both the fire and police departments, while the firefighters union deferred some payments due its members under its contract with the city to stave off even more cuts.
Still, the effort wasn't enough to prevent fire station “brownouts,” daily mothballing of certain trucks and pieces of equipment at some fire stations that are understaffed or where those firefighters could fill staffing shortfalls throughout the rest of the city. Because the department is 20 firefighters under its full complement, the number of firefighters needed to staff every station, overtime has been CFD's main problem, Wright says.
"It's come to the point where you either have to hire people, pay the overtime or reduce services," the chief says. "And the money isn't there."
That's left only one option: reducing services. Through the first 220 days of the year, Wright says, the department has had to brownout at least one station for all but 53 days; for 12 days the department had four companies down, the maximum allowed by department rules.
Then, in July, the department announced an extended plan that would temporarily close four companies — Ladder 18 at Lunken Field, Ladder 29 in the West End, Ladder 19 in Corryville and Ladder 21 in Fairmount — through the end of the year to fill in the staffing shortfalls elsewhere.
The closures have drawn criticism, especially from the firefighters union, which has called the move "playing Russian roulette" with the safety of Cincinnati residents.
Wright, though, says the department has no choice.
"We have to live with the budget the city gives us," he says. "We can't continue to fill every opportunity with overtime. If we had done that this year, we would have been out of money already. We'd have even more brownouts, and it would be an escalating problem."
The options will narrow further in 2011 with more budget cuts and the expected loss of another 35 firefighters to retirement. Because of the city's money problems, a new recruit class has already been delayed and the overtime problem will become even bigger.
Union leaders didn't return calls seeking comment.
Meanwhile, critics say the department hasn't looked at all its options, re-examining its mission, efficient use of department resources and — an option that would be particularly unpalatable to the union — its staffing levels.
Former City Councilman Greg Harris has been one of those voices. He says the department is long overdue for such introspection.
"The firefighting infrastructure in Cincinnati was built, literally, in a different era," Harris says. "It's always been neighborhood firehouse-based since the 1800s. There are so many ways to serve the public more efficiently, doing it for less money. We 'spend stupid.' Last year, police and fire services accounted for two-thirds of the city's budget. We don't look at how the money's being spent, and we keep throwing money at a broken system."
Among the options the city needs to look at, he says, is the department's dispatching policies and the number of fire stations and staff needed to adequately protect the city. In 2009, Harris notes, almost 90 percent of 911 calls fielded by CFD were medical emergencies. Yet, because of the department's policy, fire engines were dispatched along with EMT units to all calls.
"The data tells us that we need far more ambulances and paramedics," Harris says. "You don't want a fire engine to be the first responder for medical calls, you want an ambulance with trained paramedics. You would think that, with that information in hand, the department would reconstitute their mission, but what's happened is it has increased their mission to include medical calls."
The department's motivation for doing so was to justify the its staffing levels, Harris says.
"It was a way they could justify keeping the same number of firefighters, even though the National Association of Fire Safety stats say the number of fires has dropped by 45 percent over the past 40 years," he says. “They don't need to handle medical calls. They don't need the same number of firefighters, according to the statistics."
When comparing CFD to other metropolitan departments, Harris might have a point.
In Cleveland, for example, where the city is trying to close a $23 million budget gap this year, its department has started "triaging" 911 calls, not dispatching fire personnel to medical calls. The move, suggested by a 2009 efficiency study, is expected to save millions. In Columbus and Louisville, too, they triage 911 calls, sorting out medical emergencies to keep its fire personnel out of the mix.
As a result, all three have adjusted their fire/EMS staffing to meet requirements.
CFD fielded the same suggestion — boosting its EMS presence, while paring its fire staffing — from a $185,000 study completed in 2005 by Virginia-based efficiency auditor Tri-Data. It was one of 221 changes the consultant suggested, which included closing firehouses and moving others to cover more areas. The report was largely ignored by the city.
"Some of their suggestions didn't make sense for our city," Wright says. "They weren't received favorably after we looked at them. Council looked at a similar program in Dallas, looking at how many calls were diverted from the system and how much money the city saved and decided that it wouldn't be much of a cost-cutting effort for us to undertake."
Another Tri-Data recommendation suggested creating shared response agreements with surrounding cities, which would reduce the number of fire stations and firefighters needed. It, too, was not deemed cost-effective.
Yet in Columbus, where the department covers almost one-third more ground with just six more fire houses, it's proved a success.
According to Columbus Fire Department Battalion Chief David Whiting, the city has had a agreements in place with surrounding cities since 1971.
"It's saved us a lot of money over the years," Whiting says. "Cities nowadays are not just one big metropolis, they're composed of lots of little suburbs and townships. We have agreements with all those cities that the closest company responds to calls. If we didn't have those agreements, the department would need another 10 houses to cover the same areas."
In Cincinnati, the same could be accomplished, Harris says.
"Instead of having a firehouse in Mount Washington, we could have an agreement with Anderson (Township) and its fire department, for example," he says. "We simply do not need all 26 of the firehouses the department now has."
Bill Kramer, a former CFD assistant chief and professor emeritus of fire services at the University of Cincinnati, disagrees. For years, Kramer has advised cities on getting the most of their fire departments, having recently wrapped up reports for Hopkinsville, Ky., and Lima, Ohio.
"I used to go into cities and tell them how to best increase their staffing," he says. "Now it's all about where to cut stations and restructuring to do more with less. I think the Cincinnati department is doing a fantastic job on the street level, but it probably does have to look at how it's using its resources."
Kramer says his preference is always to keep firehouses open to keep response times low, but other changes can be made.
"There are efficient ways of getting the job done with fewer people, and that's probably what they have to look at," Kramer says. "There are ways to prioritize, like variable staffing, which means putting more people on duty during high-demand times, or increasing their EMS ability.
"At any given time in Cincinnati, they may have four to five medical runs taking place, meaning those four to five fire engines are out of service, and those resources aren't being used as efficiently as they could be."
Harris says that they could reduce fire companies by calling mutal aid, that may be true but would the surrounding suburb departments want to or be willing to do this. Some of the suburb departments have trouble with staffing and money just like the city does. Would they be willing to take their ambulance, engine or ladder out of their district to make a run into the city? The firefighters probably wouldn't mind but the residents might feel differently. It might work in Columbus, but I think that the departments surrounding Columbus are all union departments and have the same or better staffing than Columbus does. Not 100% sure of that.
Fire Department Faces Another $11M In Cuts Without Solution, 150 Jobs At Stake
Written By: John London WLWT.com
POSTED: 8:13 am EDT October 11, 2010
CINCINNATI -- Big cuts are looming for the Cincinnati Fire Department. WLWT has learned that the city wants to slice almost $11 million from the fire budget in the weeks ahead.
Having already absorbed several million dollars worth of reductions, rank-and-file firefighters are worried that deep personnel cuts will arrive before the holidays.
Chief Robert Wright, who is retiring next year, met with his command staff Monday morning to discuss ideas for offsetting the proposed cuts.
Marc Monahan, president of Local 48, the union representing Cincinnati firefighters, said that Wright was informed late last week that his department must come up with more than $10.9 million in budget reductions.
Sources told WLWT that the Fire Department may be able to make $2 million in spending cuts, but it would still need to make up an additional $9 million. That could result in about 150 firefighter layoffs.
There could also be further fire station brownouts, like the ones that have been occurring since August 2009. Currently, there are two to three fire companies that close daily. Under the new projections, that number could rise to 10.
Wright scheduled another meeting with his command staff for Oct. 29. They are expected to discuss which communities might experience additional brownouts.
The city could also close single firehouses in Clifton, Hyde Park, Madisonville, Sedamsville and Westwood.
There is also concern that shuttering so many fire stations on a daily basis could increase response times, which are currently about four minutes.
"Obviously, that leaves those neighborhoods without additional fire protection. It's going to be an additional four to six minutes for those next-over companies to respond in," Monahan said.
The reality is 80 percent of fire calls are medical in nature and most of them turn out to be non-emergencies.
Facing an overall city budget deficit exceeding $50 million, some City Council members said they're open to changing the way police and fire operate, including using more civilians and volunteers.
"There are ways to reorganize within the departments," said council member Jeff Berding. "When you're living beyond your means, there comes a point where you have to cut back."
Leaders of the firefighter's union said they have been bracing themselves for bad budget news over the past several months.
Their contract negotiation with the city administration has not produced an agreement for 2011. A fact-finder was brought into the process and will rule in about 10 days. If either side disagrees with the fact-finder's decision, an arbitrator will review the contract proposals.
City Could Lose Dozen Or More Fire Units Department Must Make $11 Million In Cuts
Reported by John London
POSTED: 8:17 am EDT October 27, 2010
CINCINNATI -- Firefighters have been told by city officials to trim $11 million from their budget next year to help close a projected $60 million deficit.
That directive will likely mean significant layoffs and the closing of some fire stations strategically placed throughout the city, which could lengthen response times.
Fire administration leaders have been meeting to review possibilities, but they admit the decision won't be easy.
"It's going to turn into a political battle between the neighborhoods," said Marc Monahan, president of the firefighters union. "Obviously, nobody's going to want to see their fire company close (or) their fire house close. But if these changes, if these cuts go through, that's the only option, is to cut the houses permanently."
Although no final decisions have been made, an initial list of potential cuts has been drawn up. If adopted, the city could shutter more than 15 of the city's 26 firehouses or parts of others.
Officials said the initial list of possible cuts includes fire engine companies in Over-The-Rhine, Clifton, Hyde Park and Avondale.
The list includes: ·Squad 9 in Bond Hill ·Engine 34 in Clifton ·Engine 37 in Riverside ·Engine 46 in Hyde Park ·Engine 29 in the West End ·Engine 5 in Over-the-Rhine ·Truck 29 in the West End ·Engine 18 and Truck 18 at Lunken Airport ·Engine 32 and Truck 32 in Avondale ·Engine 21 and Truck 21 in South Fairmount ·Truck 19 in Corryville ·Engine 8 in Pleasant Ridge
Some neighborhoods could lose an entire firehouse, while others would close on a daily rotating basis.
"Anytime you close a third of the companies," Local 48 President Marc Monahan said, "you're going to feel the impact."
Politically, it could prove risky to mothball firehouses in places like Hyde Park Square or Ludlow Avenue in Clifton's business district.
City lawmakers are in the early stages of determining how to close the gaping budget deficit.
Nothing has been decided yet about safety layoffs or fire station closings.
The city's budget must be put in balance by the end of the year.
Cincinnati.Com » Government Updated: 9:14 am | December 1, 2010
Hundreds protest possible layoffs
By Jane Prendergast • firstname.lastname@example.org • December 1, 2010
DOWNTOWN – Firefighters dominated the testimony at Cincinnati’s first budget meeting, imploring City Council members not to cut 144 of them.
More than 200 of them packed the room Wednesday night. They warned that entire fire stations could be shut down, though City Manager Milton Dohoney says that won’t happen.
Dohoney has proposed 370 layoffs and a $20 monthly trash collection fee to fill a $58.7 million deficit in the city’s general fund.
Matt Alter, vice president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, told council members to refer to him as No. 94, or the 94th least senior firefighter, the 94th to be laid off if council doesn’t change Dohoney’s plan.
Sal Fucito, a firefighter at Engine 32 in Avondale, told about saving the life of an 11-year-old asthmatic boy whom four firefighters recently found unresponsive. That number – four – is key because some city officials want to end the current practice of sending four firefighters on every truck, a nationally recommended safety standard.
“It took all of us,” he said, “to save this boy’s life.”
Council members were reminded repeatedly during the three-hour meeting that they could be voted out in next year’s election. NAACP President Christopher Smitherman asked why Mayor Mark Mallory wasn’t there. Two of his aides were, but he generally doesn’t attend council committee meetings.
The two-hour meeting was the first of five public hearings over the next two weeks. Most of the 460 seats in two rooms at the Duke Energy Convention Center were full and dozens more people lined the walls. Layoffs would take effect Jan. 2.
Others urged council to spare smaller items, including the Pleasant Ridge pool, funding for the YWCA and other human services and the Camp Washington recreation center. Joe Gorman, an activist in Camp Washington, suggested the Bengals buy the naming rights to the center so it could stay open. That was a poke at Councilman Jeff Berding, who directs sales and marketing for the team.
Deborah Sanders, president of an AFSCME local, said council should look higher in the public services department – at director Andrew Glenn’s office – instead of cutting from the lower ranks. Thirty-seven AFSCME employees could be laid off. “Who’s going to get the garbage?” she asked. “And who’s going to salt the streets?”
In addition to the 131 police officers who could be laid off, 24 sergeants and 139 specialists could be demoted. The specialists take 8 percent pay cuts if demoted to officer. Among those who would be demoted: Kathy Harrell, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, who has been a specialist 16 years; and Scotty Johnson, Mallory’s security officer.
Harrell made a display outside the meeting room to illustrate how many officers could be laid off. She lined up seven of the new 96-gallon recycling containers and filled them with hats to represent each of the officers that would be laid off and demoted.
Many police officers also helped fill the room. But Harrell said many of the 131 were out working second shift.
“We worked three months to get you elected,” she told council members, prompting cheers from the crowd. “We’ll work 11 months to get you un-elected.”
Last Edit: Dec 2, 2010 20:05:25 GMT -5 by district5
fmfd25: T-3 - any word on when it will ever go in service? FDIC was 3-4 as back in April
Aug 11, 2015 20:14:23 GMT -5
Bob : The crew of Truck 3 placed their new frontline App Number 51650 in service today September 2nd at 14:37 hours. Old frontline 21650 was said to be available as a spare at engine 35s quarters
Sept 2, 2015 17:31:45 GMT -5