RFD Layoffs Delayed; City to Rework Budget - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

RFD Layoffs Delayed; City to Rework Budget

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The City of Reno is weighing its options for next year's budget, a day after a judge granted a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit filed by the Reno Firefighters Association. Judge Lidia Stiglich ruled that all administrative processes must be exhausted before the layoffs can happen. That means 32 firefighters will keep their jobs. They were set to be laid off July 1.

The ruling also means the City has to find new ways to cut $3.7 million from the budget. Dennis Jacobsen is the president of The Reno Firefighters Association. He says yesterday's ruling is a win for both the fire department and the residents of Reno.

"This is not necessarily about the 32 individuals," Jacobsen said. "It's about the service to the community."

The layoffs were approved after the City learned it would not receive the $11.4 million SAFER grant that had been used to pay firefighters. The City says the fire department can still meet adequate response times, despite fewer firefighters and the browning out of Station 10, on North Virginia Street.

"Public safety is always going to be our top priority for a city," Andrew Clinger, Reno City Manager said. "That's our primary function. So, we balanced next year's budget, taking all of that into consideration."  

Now, the City is going back to the drawing board, with just six days until the new fiscal year begins.

"We'll likely come back in approximately two weeks, at a budget workshop and get into more details and actually take some actions on what the council would like to do but, at this point, everything is on the table," Clinger said.

Jacobsen says the layoffs would decrease the number of firefighters to 1977 levels. RFD has 266 total firefighters, right now. Jacobsen says that number should be closer to 300 and that there is enough money to keep the firefighters employed.

"Although I'm sure they want to spend the money on other projects that they believe are paramount, we felt that that money, first and foremost, should go to public safety," Jacobsen said.

The city plans to appeal the ruling.

"We obviously respect the judge's decision but we think that our arguments need to be heard at a higher level," Clinger said.
Clinger has issued a hiring freeze for the city because of the court's decision. The Reno City Council is also looking at retirements and resignations. Plans are in place that offer incentives to firefighters that choose to retire or resign, in order to decrease the number of layoffs. Since the judge's ruling means there will not be any layoffs, they are discussing if that should remain in place.
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