City fire department to take truck out of service, demote nine firefighters
By Jordyn Grzelewski
In the latest cost-cutting measure to help alleviate the city’s financial troubles, Youngstown Fire Department will remove one firetruck from service and demote nine firefighters.
Mayor Jamael Tito Brown announced the move Thursday afternoon after a Wednesday discussion behind closed doors during a city council meeting.
The plan is to remove one truck from service, thereby allowing some shifts in staffing. The city will permanently eliminate three fire captain and three lieutenant positions. Those individuals will be demoted, as will three additional lieutenants whose positions will be filled by the demoted captains.
Fire Chief Barry Finley said Thursday was a “rough day,” but said this outcome is better than closing a station or laying off firefighters.
“At the end of the day, we all realize it’s something that needed to happen so the city could maintain its fiscal responsibility,” he said.
Brown said this is the latest step in following the recommendations of an independent financial consultant.
“We’re just continually following the forecast recommendations,” he said. The city has been looking for ways to prevent a financial expert’s projection of a $2.22 million deficit by the end of 2019 and a $16 million deficit by 2023.
In July, YFD began closing stations on a rotating basis for two-week periods to curb overtime spending.
Interim Finance Director Kyle Miasek spelled out some of the projected cost savings from the measure.
The city will save about $90,000 in next year’s budget because the fire department will no longer need to repair damages to the truck being taken out of service, Miasek said.
He said the city will see additional savings in next year’s budget of about $110,000 as a result of freeing up the 18 firefighters who worked on that truck and who will now be able to take on other duties. That new flexibility will help reduce overtime costs, he said.
Miasek said it also will help the department reduce staff after upcoming retirements.
“Now we have the ability to shrink the fire department through attrition and fill those ranks because we’re going to have 18 firefighters freed up,” he said.
Additionally, he said the city will save about $70,000 in payroll costs due to the nine demotions.
Miasek said council is slated to act on legislation to permanently eliminate the three captain and three lieutenant positions from the city’s master salary ordinance at a meeting Oct. 17.
He added that it is too early to determine the full impact on the city’s financial situation.
“We are beginning the process of developing the 2019 budget,” he said.