Chief: Fire layoffs could affect Clifton, Hyde Park, OTR and Sedamsville

In all, 16 of 40 engine companies might close

CINCINNATI - More details are emerging about where cuts might occur if Cincinnati officials decide to layoff 118 firefighters in June to avoid a deficit.

According to the city manager's office, the proposed layoffs include 80 firefighters and 38 recruits who were recently sworn in. Two other recruits who are currently in training would also be laid off.

Potential cuts include eliminating the engine companies in Clifton, Hyde Park, Over-the-Rhine and Sedamsville.

The information was given Thursday afternoon in a meeting between Fire Chief Richard Braun and the firefighters union.

In all, the union was told 16 of the department's 40 engine companies might be affected by layoffs, said Matt Alter, president of Cincinnati Fire Fighters Union Local 48.

They include 26 engine companies, 12 ladder truck companies and two heavy rescue units.

"Engine company" refers to the trucks kept at a fire station that are capable of pumping water.

Other types of companies include a ladder truck company, which refers to trucks that carry ladders and other heavy equipment; and medic companies, which are vehicles with medical equipment.

Braun mentioned closures were likely for Engine Co. 34 on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton; Engine Co. 46 on Erie Avenue in Hyde Park; Engine Co. 5 at McMicken Avenue and Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine; and Engine Co. 37 on Lilienthal Street in Sedamsville.

Union leaders were told the closures would be based on criteria like response times and areas where there is overlap among fire companies.

Alter said the proposed closures would endanger the safety of residents and firefighters if they are implemented.

City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. has said Cincinnati may lay off 344 municipal workers – including 189 police officers and 80 firefighters – if they can't resolve a budget deficit with other cuts.

The city is facing a $35 million deficit and must have a balanced budget for fiscal year 2014 by July 1.

Mayor Mark Mallory, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and a council majority said the layoffs were sparked by the legal battle over a proposed lease of the city's parking meters and garages.

City Council approved the lease in a 5-4 vote in early March, but it was put on hold after some citizens filed a legal challenge, alleging the charter gives them the right to hold a referendum on the issue.

A judge agreed to issue an injunction against the lease until a vote was held, but city officials have appealed the decision.

The lease of Cincinnati's parking meters, lots and garages to the Port Authority is estimated to yield a total of $570.7 million, according to the city's financial consultant.

Under the deal, the city will get an upfront payment of $92 million, along with annual payments that begin at $3 million and increase gradually over time.

With the money, city administrators would cover a deficits in 2014 and 2015, as well as jumpstart several development projects including construction of a luxury apartment building downtown.

Lease supporters say the deal will help the city grow its tax base.

Critics counter that the deal lessens public accountability for the assets, and fear that increases in parking rates will hurt small businesses.

Some council members have argued that the city can make other cuts to avoid the deficit without using layoffs.



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