Union urges Findlay to bring back laid off firefighters - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Union urges Findlay to bring back laid off firefighters

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A budget battle is brewing in Findlay.

After agreeing to contract concessions, the firefighters union is calling on the city to bring back all of the firefighters laid off earlier this year.

In one week the city will host a public hearing about the administration's proposed 2014 budget. 13abc is told that includes possibly bringing back three firefighters.

However, the union president says considering the city's improved finances, that's not enough.

"We think that all of our firefighters should come back," says Matt Cooper, president of IAFF Local 381.

Cooper was one of 20 Findlay firefighters to get a pink slip back in April after voters rejected a quarter percent income tax, but the city ended up laying off 10 firefighters instead.

Cooper says the lower manpower, now down to 57 total or 14 per shift, has become a safety issue.

"Now if we have a call we all respond, so we have nobody in reserve that can respond if another call comes in for 9-1-1," says Cooper.

This month, firefighters agreed to a new three year contract that does not include pay raises until possibly 2015. At the same time, Cooper says, "As of the end of November the city has collected three point two million dollars more in income tax this year in comparison to 2012."

"Obviously our situation has significantly improved over what we thought it was going to be," says Paul Schmelzer, Findlay's Service-Safety Director.

Schmelzer says there are more people impacted by the next budget than just firefighters. The mayor's administration is considering bringing back the police department's vice narcotics and special assignment units. That would mean hiring six officers.

"We have some people in the Parks and Public Works Department that we're also taking a look at," says Schmelzer.

The budget hearing is scheduled for next Thursday, December 12th. The budget isn't expected to be approved until January.

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