16 Lorain firefighters face layoffs to close deficit

Lorain, OH - Sixteen firefighters might become the first casualties of an anticipated $2.4 million budget deficit.
"The state has declared us in fiscal watch, and if everything was held constant, our deficit would increase by $1.3 million," Mayor Craig Foltin said yesterday. "Something has to be done."

The economy and failure of a recent income-tax increase have added to the city's financial woes, he said.
Foltin has asked all city unions - fire, police and steelworkers - to take a 5 percent pay cut or face layoffs. Dec. 17 is the last day to reach an agreement to provide adequate notice before year's end, Foltin said.
The firefighters are the only group that won't negotiate, he said.
Foltin has asked all of the city's 540 employees - including himself - to forgo pay raises of 3.5 percent negotiated for next year, the last of a three-year contract.
"The firefighters didn't get hit very hard in the last round of layoffs," Foltin said, adding that the payroll for fire and police comprises nearly 70 percent of the city's personnel expenses.
Tony Bucci, vice president of the firefighters union, said this isn't a year to negotiate the contract. He blames city politics.
"The mayor doesn't want to raise taxes. He wants to be re-elected," Bucci said.
The Republican mayor's most recent proposal asked firefighters to either take a 5 percent cut or 4.5 unpaid days annually.
Bucci said the proposed layoffs plus six from last Thanksgiving would reduce the staff by 25 percent. Just 68 firefighters would cover the city of 68,000, he said.
"That is a huge, huge safety cut," he said. "I don't think the citizens should stand for it."