More from City Hall: O’Rourke proposes firefighter layoffs, Hittle calls that risky

6:53 p.m.:

Interim City Manager Kevin O’Rourke said the administration is seeking to reduce the cost to the city of healthcare and other employee benefits (shifting cost to employees).

6:56 p.m.:

O’Rourke is proposing police reductions of more than $11 million, about as anticipated. He said the city also should consider combining the police and fire dispatch centers.

The council is endorsing the cuts.

7:18:

Fire is up. Interim City Manager Kevin O’Rourke said his approach is entirely different than Fire Chief Ron Hittle proposed (Hittle’s proposal depended on concessions).

O’Rourke is proposing to lay off 24 firefighters and to reduce constant staffing, a measure he said could save $7.9 million. He is also recommending just less than $3 million in savings by withholding raises firefighters are owed by contract July 1.

7:23 p.m.:

Fire Chief Ron Hittle is at the podium. He said he received the proposal this afternoon.

He said, “I put together a balanced budget.” Everything is negotiable, Hittle said.

Hittle said he will carry out whatever decision the council makes. To reduce constant staffing will draw down daily staffing from 75 firefighters to 58, he said.

O’Rourke had recommended reducing the number of firefighters on engines from four to three. Hittle said having four firefighters per engine is more effective.

He said the difference to him is having more people available. He is mentioning the Quail Lakes fire.

Hittle said he wants to be “extremely respectful” to staff. He said he believes the proposal is “risky” for the public and for firefighters.

7:33 p.m.:

Mayor Ann Johnston is supporting O’Rourke’s proposal.

To clarify, O’Rourke is saying that through negotiations he is anticipating getting to about $6.8 million in fire savings.

The council is endorsing the proposal. And now it is taking a break.

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