Reno Council Votes to Lay Off Firefighters if Necessary

By: Joe Harrington Email
By: Joe Harrington Email

RENO -- The Reno City Council voted five to two Wednesday afternoon to lay off firefighters, if necessary. Reno's new budget won't take effect until July, and city officials have said they are trying to come up with ways to avoid looming firefighter layoffs.

Due to the loss of federal grant funding, Reno is facing laying off 35 firefighters.

Reno's fire chief acknowledged response times may be increased, but said they would still be within guidelines and the city would be protected.

Firefighter Ken McLellan said: "Whether those reductions in force are through layoffs or retirements, ultimately the fire department is less able to serve the community."

With the firefighters' contract with Reno set to end at the end of June, Councilmember Dwight Dortch said concessions from the union could mean all of the layoffs won't be necessary.

The City of Reno's plan also involves browning out an additional fire station -- for a total of three. The locations would be equipped, but usually not staffed.

The fire chief pointed out other alternatives that could result in cost-savings go against union contracts.

The union said it is continuing to work with the City -- and the City has options to come up with savings elsewhere.

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ORIGINAL STORY:
RENO CITY HALL -- Reno's leaders are looking for ways to reduce impending layoffs of firefighters. Reno had requested federal dollars to fund 50 firefighter positions. When the funding didn't come through, the city manager said the budget was restructured requiring 35 layoffs.

City Manager Andrew Clinger said finding an operator of the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course resulted in savings that could help fund public safety needs. He also said Reno is paying off debt, resulting in additional funds.

Clinger said the City is continuing to look for solutions to reduce the impending layoffs from 35. The new budget begins July 1.

"Really we are going to be working all the way through June to reduce that number so until we get to July first we're not going to know for certain what that number is but we're going to do everything we can to reduce that number," Clinger said.

Clinger said retirements and transfers are possibilities to reduce layoffs.

Reno's budget for the new fiscal year is three-hundred fifty-two million dollars. Of that, one-hundred fifty-nine million is general fund dollars.

Clinger said in addition to paying off debt, the budget increases reserves for the first time in years.

However, he added funding retiree health insurance remains a challenge for Reno in the long-term.


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