KC Council passes budget that includes $7.6 million in Fire Department cuts

The Kansas City Council today voted 12-1 for a new $1.3 billion budget, which takes effect May 1.

The budget affirms the city manager's call for $7.6 million in cuts to the fire department, which could involve the layoff of 105 firefighters, unless the union and the city negotiate a different way to reach those savings.

Councilman John Sharp said it was not prudent policy and he worried about the impact on public safety. And Firefighters Union President Mike Cambiano said it was the city's way of trying to pressure the union into a bad contract. He said the union has been trying since last August to negotiate a new wage deal with the city, but negotiations only began March 12, after the cuts had been proposed. The current firefighter contract expires April 30.

Cambiano said the union yesterday offered a different set of cuts adding up to $5.9 million, but the city rejected that offer.

Council members said this is the fifth straight year of hard cuts to the city budget, and the fire department has to be willing to make sacrifices like everyone else. They held out the hope that the union and management can reach an agreement that gets most of the cuts through retirements and voluntary departures of older firefighters, to save the younger firefighters jobs.

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