Bare bones budget approved for Memphis Fire - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Bare bones budget approved for Memphis Fire

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) - Though city council approved a bare bones budget Tuesday afternoon for the Memphis Fire Department, some on council wanted to cut even more.

Both sides said the other was putting Memphians in danger.

Three fire trucks were out of commission and that dominated Tuesday's discussion on the fire budget. Taking a truck out of service to save money is called a brownout.

"The numbers keep changing, which makes it real tough to plan," said Councilman Shea Flinn. "When we're told in April we have $28 million in savings and start building budgets around that and then we have $23 million in savings."

The fire stations in Midtown, Shelby Oaks and Whitehaven were all without their ladder trucks. The trucks are browned out when there is not enough money to pay overtime to man the trucks.     

Some council members said sick time needs to be reformed so there are fewer firemen out sick and the trucks have a crew.

Councilman Kemp Conrad said sick time costs the city $6 million a year and suggested cutting $3 million from the fire budget with the hopes sick time policy would be reformed.
 
But the fire budget was approved as proposed.

"The frustrations are understandable," Mayor A C Wharton said. "Things are evolving particularly on opeb and the pension issue."

Something not in the budget, was $1.2 million for a new 100-member firefighter recruiting class. It's something the Fire Director Alvin Benson but was not put in the budget and is still unclear where that money will come from. Funding for a recruiting class for the police department was also not in the budget, and was added later.
 
Budget discussion will continue the next few weeks with a budget expected to be approved by the end of June.

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