Reno City Budget Includes 35 Firefighter Layoffs - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Reno City Budget Includes 35 Firefighter Layoffs

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The City of Reno announced 35 firefighter layoffs, two weeks ago. The cuts will go into effect July 1 because Reno will not receive an $11.4 million federal grant. The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant would have been enough to pay for 50 firefighters, but the city was able to use money from the general fund to save 15 of those jobs. Still, the RFD budget will be nearly $8-million less for the next fiscal year. That's a 19% decrease.  The city is using one-time funding from the Regional Transportation Commission to pay off City Hall Debt, which saves money.

"It's equivalent to somebody paying off their house early," Andrew Clinger, Reno City Manager said. "You have your monthly mortgage payment. If you paid your mortgage off early, you would free up those mortgage payments going forward."

That payment frees up about $1 million per year for the next four years to pay firefighters.

They're also using $320,000 of savings from the recent Rosewood Lakes Golf Course operational agreement and $520,800 in fire department efficiencies to save firefighter positions. "We're always looking at ways to be more efficient and save dollars so that we can save some of those jobs," Clinger said.

The fire department is also working with the unions and the city to save even more jobs. "I'm pleased that we're able to save 15 jobs and I can tell you that we are currently working on a plan to probably alleviate additional positions, but that's a work in progress," Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said.

Station 10, on North Virginia Street will still close, along with two other previously browned out stations. The fire department will be able to re-open them when necessary. "Our fundamental message to the community is that we're still protecting them," Hernandez said. "We'll be there in a timely manner. We'll be there with well-trained, well-equipped personnel."

Reno's budget is $352 million and things are improving in other areas. The city's reserve level for Fiscal Year 15 will be more than 7% for the first time since 2008. "We need those reserves there, just to maintain a positive cash flow throughout the year," Clinger said.

Clinger says other areas of the budget are stable and the only reason for the fire department cuts is because of the lack of federal grant money. The city even has some job openings that he says could be filled by some of the affected firefighters.

Written by Paul Nelson

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